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religion in a state school

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by harshipper88, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. harshipper88

    harshipper88 New commenter

    Hi all,
    I work in an academy which has no tie with a church and follows the secular curriculum. However, we are in a white middle class area.
    During this time of year, there are Christmas services held in assembly, and at Easter we had to sit through the senior six retelling the Easter story. I have also noticed that the school webpage now has a Christmassy scene with a church on it. We also have a school youth group that comes in and runs a weekly club which about 6 students attend.
    While I know it's Christmas and trees are up etc, I don't think that it is right that we are imposing/forcing children to sit through these assemblies (and staff!!) especially when there are other denominations in the school even as minorities. We do not celebrate their holidays.
    Do I have a right to say I don't want to go to these assemblies?
    Thanks for your input and advice.
  2. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Given that by law, you could be expected to sit through a daily act of worship, I don't think that you can refuse to go. You might take some consolation from looking forward to the Christmas and Easter holidays.
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Bah, humbug.
  4. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    To my knowledge, having worked in a faith school, staff do not have the right to excuse themselves from acts of worship sanctioned by their employer. Indeed, you are expected to 'enforce' [perform] the acts of worship.

    Now if this is something your employer has been doing since the first day to started then I don't see how you can have an issue. IF on the other hand, your employer has recently altered their policy to incorporate a more Christian ethos into the school [it reads like it may have been a recent change] then you may be able to raise this discreetly with SLT and query your participation. You might want to consult with your Union on this.

    I doubt you have much ground though.

    [happy to be shown to be wrong in any of the above]
  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    With reference to Theo's advice, @gracerawl, you should bear two things in mind:

    1. Nativity & Passion plays are not worship, whatever the BHA might think.
    2. Excluding yourself from community activities may have unforeseen consequences for your relationships at your place of work.
  7. subman68

    subman68 Occasional commenter

    Jesus was born, wither you believe he was God or the son of God or just a guy that could tell a good story is all about personal choice. We get 2 weeks at Christmas for him and 2 weeks again at Easter. Personally I just like to say thanks Jesus I really need the time off.
    JRiley1, BTBAM and Vince_Ulam like this.
  8. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I know that it can be difficult to ignore what you see as pandering to a psychotic illness, but I tell myself that it's all just a work of fiction, that the nativity is no different from Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk, and the weekly club might be no more harmful than a Harry Potter Club, and it doesn't seem so bad.
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I was hoping this thread would avoid village atheism.
    monicabilongame and gracerawl like this.
  10. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    You do not have the right to excuse yourself from assemblies as you can be there in a supervisory capacity (crowd control if you like)

    You DO NOT however have to do a collective act of worship. You can opt out. I did that in my last school (don't think it made me very popular) The school also used to observe staff and graded them 1 to 4 (Ofsted style) which is another reason why I refused to partake.
  11. harshipper88

    harshipper88 New commenter

    When I applied for the job, knowing it was a state school, I didn't even think to ask about any acts of religious worship outside of RE lessons which are about teaching faith, not practising. So I don't know/ this falls within this.
  12. subman68

    subman68 Occasional commenter

  13. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    My understanding was that all staff have the right to opt out of any act of collective worship. Has the law changed recently?
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    You would not need to - they have to happen by law, so you can expect them to occur.

    If you have a religous objection to these events, then I suppose you could take on responsibilites outside them, such as crowd control on the way in and out and patrolling the classrooms to find children who have done a bunk. Or supervising students whose parents have opted them out for religous reasons, as they are entitled to do (so you do not need to worry about the children of other religions). If you just find them boring, then I suggest that you just put up with it - we all have to sit through plenty of boring stuff.
  15. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    The meetings... the long interminable never ending meetings...
  16. harshipper88

    harshipper88 New commenter

    It's not about boredom, it's about the law and the right to not be subjected to things I find offensive.
  17. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    What offends you about a children's play?
  18. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Perhaps the answer then is for you to argue for a bit more cultural diversity in your school and celebrate important events in other religions too.

    (a) There is law and the school are complying with it

    (b) You don't have a right not to be offended just because you personally happen not to like it. If parliament or courts have decided something is offensive you have rights, but otherwise you don't. Last time I looked children's Nativity plays hadn't been deemed legally offensive.

    (c) Unless you were forcibly conscripted to work as a teacher no-one is making you sit through something you find offensive. Go and do a different job that doesn't involve children's assemblies and Nativity plays. Presumably you knew you might come across these offensive things before you applied to be a teacher?
  19. Noja

    Noja Senior commenter

    What a load of baloney!
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Did you not read TheoGriff's link? I did.

    Just for you I shall precis.

    You can dodge the religious bits. I suspect that would cover prayers and readings from holy books. A narration of a story by children? You'd have to argue your case with the HT.

    But in practice? Unless the overtly 'religious worship' bits occur always in the same order and for the same length of time then you'll be up and down like a jack-in-the-box. Very disruptive. Would suit your conscientious objection but not be terribly compatible with crowd-control. And that's a DUTY.

    So you can approach the HT by all means. Do read what @TheoGriff so helpfully posted however.

    And had you really not heard of the legal requirement that each school conducts a daily act of worship of a broadly Christian character? Often disregarded but remains the law.

    Do look for petitions to sign to change this state of affairs if you feel strongly that this is an anomaly in 2015.

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