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Religion in schools

For discussions related to education and educational institutions.
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Titanium Wheels
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#1 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 24th, 2007, 12:00 pm

You know, I was thinking about religion in schools and reflecting what happened to my children; now 24 and 27. here's what I came up with.

For primary schooling we sent them to our nearest C of E Primary School. It was very highly recommenced and we were C of E members and I was the organist too. So I was surprised at how little religion featured in the school day. Yes, there was the assembly in the morning but that is a bit tokenist. There was a Harvest Festival at which a local minister would spout for a few minutes, usually on a subject more or less unrelated to god. Finally there was a carol service which again is so obviously mythical that it makes no real difference to anyone.

High School in Scotland was not a faith based school and what RE they did was more about learning a bit about all the major faiths which I think is worth doing i n terms of understanding others. So in the end, not much religion at all.

I suspect it is only in Muslim and RC school that religion is treated with any great seriousness. Of course, I am aginst faith based schools but feel that it is these ones who are the ones who ought to have something done. if for no other reason, surely the timetable doesn't give that much time for RD if it is being done properly. I'd say a good start would be to reduce funsing to faith based schools initially to a % of the time the school is used to teach non-religious matter. The faith would pay the cost of the religious teaching as well as a share of the building costs.I would apply this across the board given a chance.

I would also like to repeal the act which requires daily act of worship in all schools. despite this act, most schools fail to meet the requirement so I can't think its abolition would matter much.Perhaps a letter wtijng campaign to MPs and MSPs might be a start.
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lewist
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#2 Post by lewist » July 24th, 2007, 12:42 pm

Titanium Wheels wrote:I would also like to repeal the act which requires daily act of worship in all schools. despite this act, most schools fail to meet the requirement so I can't think its abolition would matter much.Perhaps a letter wtijng campaign to MPs and MSPs might be a start.
On a point of information, Titanium, it is only in England that there is any compulsion to have a daily act of worship. The curriculum in Scotland does not have the direct force of law in the way it does south of the border and whereas there is an expectation of religious assemblies, they are not prescribed quite so rigorously here.

My own practice as a headteacher was to have assembly every week but these were not always religious. We had a number of children from JW families, and they were not allowed to attend anything of a religious nature in school. Each fortnight therefore we an assembly with religious content, usually with our chaplain taking part, and the other weeks we had an inclusive non religious assembly, which allowed the whole school to get together as one.

Titanium Wheels
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#3 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 24th, 2007, 12:51 pm

Ah, thanks, Lewist. I haven't got all the Scottish differences sorted obviously.
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God
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#4 Post by God » July 24th, 2007, 12:55 pm

Titanium Wheels wrote: I would also like to repeal the act which requires daily act of worship in all schools. despite this act, most schools fail to meet the requirement so I can't think its abolition would matter much.Perhaps a letter wtijng campaign to MPs and MSPs might be a start.
There is an e-petition:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Ensure that religious services in the form of assemblies are banned from ALL school activities.
You can sign the e-petion here

(I just have)

Titanium Wheels
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#5 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 24th, 2007, 1:04 pm

thanks for that; just signed up. sadly I think it faces the same fate as all the other petitions and just acts as a place to complain without anything happening. Still I suppose it shows public opinion
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Alan C.
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#6 Post by Alan C. » July 24th, 2007, 1:21 pm

I'm afraid that petition has already been done. This was the reply I got when the petition closed.
Removeworship - epetition reply

2 May 2007

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to remove collective worship in schools."

Details of petition:

"The law that requires daily acts of collective worship is outdated, and against the human rights of the child to have an education free from religious indoctrination. In collective worship there is no equality for all, no adequate provisions for those wishing to opt out of it, and it discriminated against those particularly with no faith. It also breaches equal rights. Religious practice is not education, it is faith, and should be kept seperate from an educational environment."

This was the governments reply.

The Government remains committed to the provision of collective worship in schools and recognises its valuable contribution to the spiritual and moral development of pupils.
This is a view which is shared by many parents who still expect their children to understand the meaning of worship whether they hold a faith or not.

We believe that it is important that collective worship should provide the opportunity for pupils to worship God as well as to consider spiritual and moral issues and to explore their own beliefs. Collective worship can play a valuable role in developing community spirit, promoting a common ethos and shared values. The Government believes there is sufficient flexibility in the law to allow both Christian and other forms of worship.

The Government respects the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own faith and this is why parents have the right to withdraw their children from collective worship. From September 2007, pupils in school sixth forms will also be able to withdraw themselves from collective worship. The Government believes that for younger pupils, it is appropriate and practical for parents to decide on whether to withdraw. The Government believes this strikes the right balance between the requirements of the law and accommodating the wishes of parents.
I've signed dozens of these e-petitions, I've yet to see any kind of positive result.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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God
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#7 Post by God » July 24th, 2007, 1:22 pm

Titanium Wheels wrote:thanks for that; just signed up. sadly I think it faces the same fate as all the other petitions and just acts as a place to complain without anything happening. Still I suppose it shows public opinion
I agree of course. In fact I tried to get an e-petion on the subject. Here's the reply I got:
Friday, 6 July, 2007

Hi,

I'm sorry to inform you that your petition has been rejected.

Your petition was classed as being in the following categories:

* Issues for which an e-petition is not the appropriate
channel

If you wish to edit and resubmit your petition, please follow
the following link:
(link deleted as irrelevant)

You have four weeks in which to do this, after which your
petition will appear in the list of rejected petitions.

Your petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to: 'arrange for
serious consideration to be paid to epetitions and not merely
respond to them by stating or restating the position of the
government as previously established prior to the submission of
the petition.'

I have read the responses to a number of epetitions and my
general impression is that the epetition system is failing to
induce any new initiatives or perspectives on the part of
government, which generally responds by simply restating and/or
defending its pre-existing position on the matters being raised
by the petitions.

-- the ePetitions team

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#8 Post by Moose » July 24th, 2007, 2:00 pm

I attended C of E schools also but apart from assemblies there wasn't really any religion in the curriculum. I did RE GCSE and we mainly debated ethics and morality. I don't have a problem with the schooling I had. If they had been trying to make me believe that the earth was 6K years old, as I believe some of these 'academy' schools do, then I would have had a BIG problem.
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Alan C.
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#9 Post by Alan C. » July 24th, 2007, 2:59 pm

Godsucks
Fair enough. So what action would you support?.
I write to my MP, my MEP, my MSP, and the PM.
There would be no point in me campaigning locally about faith schools, as I've said (more than once before) we have 33 schools here, and NON of them are faith schools.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Alan C.
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#10 Post by Alan C. » August 13th, 2007, 1:32 pm

From Alan's media scan today.
The delight of teachers and academics at the news of a dramatic increase in the number of pupils choosing to sit the Higher exam in Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies will be echoed by many others from parents to politicians, seeing it as heartening proof that today's teenagers are keen to engage with some of the most difficult issues of the day. It is no coincidence that the jump from 1323 candidates in 2006 to 1751 this year follows changes to the religious education course to include more philosophy and current affairs.
Isn't it a fact that this has been made one of the easiest subjects in which to get a top grade pass?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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whitecraw
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#11 Post by whitecraw » August 13th, 2007, 5:08 pm

As a matter of fact, the Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies Higher Grade isn’t one of the easiest exams to pass, let alone achieve a good pass. Only 77% of candidates achieve a pass in this subject, which puts RMPS on a par with English (75%), Chemistry (73%), Geology (77%), Geography (77%), Information Systems (76%), and Technological Studies (75%). Indeed the pass rate for Higher RMPS is just above middling, the the pass rate for Higher Grades generally being 75%. By far the easiest Higher Grade exams to pass are Classical Greek, Gaidhlig, Russian, Politics, Mental Health Care, and Quantity Surveying, all of which enjoy 100% pass rates. The most difficult to pass is Electronics, the pass rate for which is only 14%. (These figures are taken from recent SVQ analyses of candidates performance at Higher Grade.)

I find the increase in candidates for the RMPS Higher Grade exam to be heartening on two counts. Firstly, it means that more younger people are taking the opportunity to investigate the nature and scope of religion and morality, and to consider philosophical viewpoints on religious and other stances for living in the modern world (including secular humanism). Secondly, it means that more younger people are being introduced to the core critical thinking skills that enable them to reflect creatively on their own respective life experiences and develop their own respective personal beliefs and values.

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Alan C.
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#12 Post by Alan C. » August 13th, 2007, 5:35 pm

whitecraw
As a matter of fact, the Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies Higher Grade isn’t one of the easiest exams to pass, let alone achieve a good pass.
I stand corrected, but I did read somewhere recently that it was the easy option. :shrug:
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Lifelinking
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#13 Post by Lifelinking » August 13th, 2007, 6:34 pm

By far the easiest Higher Grade exams to pass are Classical Greek, Gaidhlig, Russian, Politics, Mental Health Care, and Quantity Surveying, all of which enjoy 100% pass rates
Maybe students of those subjects are just much, much cleverer than at least 86% of electronics students? :grin:
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Lucretius
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#14 Post by Lucretius » August 21st, 2007, 1:36 am

School is for learning. If you want to have a part of school learning about all beliefs, as long as secularism, atheism and humanism are included along with beliefs in the imaginary, I am fine with that. Otherwise keep your religion at home and pray on your own time. SCHOOL IS FOR LEARNING.
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken

Fred
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#15 Post by Fred » August 22nd, 2007, 8:56 am

lewist wrote: On a point of information, Titanium, it is only in England that there is any compulsion to have a daily act of worship.
Unfortunately, it's compulsory in Wales too. Education is a devolved issue, but I think this particular facet might still reserved at westminister. I'll have to check.
Fred

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whitecraw
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#16 Post by whitecraw » August 22nd, 2007, 1:05 pm

Three points

1.
Alarm has been expressed at the increase in the number of candidates taking Higher Grade Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies in 2007, with the number of candidates taking the exam increasing by one-third, from 1323 in 2006 to 1751 in 2007.

The sharp rise follows a revamp of the course in 2005 by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which made it more relevant to current affairs and emphasised the contribution of philosophy to the course, which involves the study of world religions and beliefs.

Alan C reported that this increase has been reported as being due to the course being an ‘easier option’, though the evidence contradicts this view. The pass rate for Higher RMPS puts it on a par with Higher Grade Chemistry, English and Geography (75-77%), which would indicate that it is no easier to pass than these other options.

Teachers and academics believe the growing numbers reflect a desire by pupils to think critically about their own beliefs and those of others in what can be a confusing world in which to grow up, and revamped RMPS Higher gives them the opportunity to do this.. Elements of the course that deal with euthanasia, creationism and genetics have proved particularly popular.

2.
In relation to Higher Grade RMPS, here’s the indoctrination programme. http://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/RMPS_H_Course.pdf . Shocking, eh? Shouldn’t be allowed.

3.
Secular humanism does feature in the Higher Grade curriculum. Students must choose from two optional units – Christianity: Critiques and Challenges, or Language, Philosophy and Religion – and, within the first, they must choose from three areas of study: Christianity and Secular Humanism, Christianity and Science or Christianity and Marxism. There’s no compulsion to study secular humanism; but there is no compulsion to study any particular religion or non-religious alternative.

Beki
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#17 Post by Beki » August 22nd, 2007, 1:18 pm

Just had a quick scan through this whitecraw. It seems to be quite a decent set-up and aims to promote critical thinking awhich seems admirable

I can't understand then, when this was reported in the Glasgow Herald, why the only comments in the report were provided by Catholic representatives who were largely positive about it - saying that it was 'death to secularisation' and that students were now more interested in religion than before. To my mind, the more pupils are encouraged to think critically, the more RC's will become ex-RC's.

I would be interested to see how this is actually being taught in RC schools. One of my abiding memories of secondary school English was being asked to pick a topic and speak in front of the class about it. We were told that we were absolutely NOT allowed to speak in favour of either abortion or euthanasia. Censorship along RC principles..... Hardly critical thinking!!

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whitecraw
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#18 Post by whitecraw » August 22nd, 2007, 9:07 pm

Hi Beki

Here's the Scottish Executive's line on religious education in denominational schools, as issued through Learning and Teaching Scotland, the main organisation for the development and support of the Scottish curriculum. Anyone who has any evidence that Catholic schools do not follow these guidelines should, of course, immediate blow a whistle in the direction of the education authorities.
Religious education in denominational schools

In many parts of Scotland, local authority schools are either denominational or non-denominational. The great majority of denominational schools are Roman Catholic schools while a small number of schools serve other faith communities. The curriculum for religious and moral education in a denominational school will reflect its particular faith perspective. It will address the aspects which are outlined in the description of expectations for religious and moral education.

Religious education in Roman Catholic schools

Religious education in Roman Catholic schools takes place within the context of the Catholic faith community. Religious education in Catholic schools is designed to nurture faith and assist children and young people to be able to make an informed response to God in faith. Children and young people in Catholic schools will be at different places in the spectrum of faith development. While most young people will be of the Catholic tradition, some will be of other denominations and faiths, or have different stances for living. Religious education should support all children and young people, irrespective of religious affiliation, in their personal search for truth and meaning in life, and so it is central to their educational development. For those who demonstrate active faith participation, however, it also contributes to the development of their personal response to God in faith.

The religious education curriculum offers a valuable contribution to the whole school approach to the development of faith, attitudes and values. Learning through religious education enables children and young people to:

• develop their knowledge and understanding of significant aspects of Catholic Christian faith and an understanding of other Christian traditions and world religions
• investigate and understand the responses which faith offers to questions about truth and the meaning of life
• highlight and foster the values, attitudes and practices which are compatible with a positive response to the invitation to faith
• develop the skills of reflection, discernment, critical thinking, and deciding how to act in accordance with an informed conscience when making moral decisions
• develop their beliefs, attitudes, moral values and practices through personal search, discovery and critical evaluation, and make a positive difference to the world by putting their beliefs and values into action.

Footnote: Religious education in Roman Catholic schools
The position of religious education in denominational schools is set out in statute. In Catholic schools, the Catholic Education Commission has responsibility for the faith content of the curriculum, on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. The Scottish Executive Education Department is working in partnership with the Catholic Education Commission in the development of guidance for Catholic schools in keeping with the values, purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence. In Catholic schools the term religious education is used in preference to religious and moral education.
And of course any Catholic school that wishes to present candidates for the Higher Grade Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies exam will have to cover with them the prescribed syllabus.

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#19 Post by Fred » August 22nd, 2007, 9:25 pm

What is the position in Scotland re new "faith" schools? The Welsh Government has explicitly said that there there will be no new "faith" schools and no city academies which, in England, seem to be sectarian schools by the backdoor.

Unfortunately, we're stuck with the ones we have - for now anyway ;)
Fred

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Alan C.
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#20 Post by Alan C. » August 22nd, 2007, 9:36 pm

I read somewhere recently, that Alex Salmond was in favor of more Muslim schools :cross: Can anyone elaborate?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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