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Religion - what would you do?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by NQT88, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. NQT88

    NQT88 New commenter

    I teach in a church of england school and as lent began this week there has been a strong focus on that in assembly (the children were ashed and the headteacher mentioned teachers praying at lunch).
    Since there has been such a strong focus on this I have had two children ask me about religion.
    Once asked me (half way through our PE warm up) what religion I am, as it was during PE (right after the ashing assembly) there wasn't really time to answer as we had to move on to the game.
    Another asked me during the other assembly whether I went to the prayer meeting, which I honestly replied no.
    However I am not sure what to do in future, as I am an atheist but I know it's a church of England school so would there be any policies on this.
    Has anyone had any experience in this area?
    I plan on asking my mentor at some point but among SATs preparation and behaviour/bullying/trips/booster/clubs/resourcing problems/ MTP etc. I never seem to have time.
    So any input would be greatly appreciated!
  2. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    I'd just answer any question honestly. If asked what religion you are, then just say that you don't have any religion. The child is likely to leave it at that. But if they do ask for further information, then say that you are an atheist and that means that you don't believe in any God.
    You're perfectly entitled to your own beliefs - or lack of them. As long as you don't bring the subject up yourself, and show respect for the school ethos and for staff and pupils' beliefs, then I don't see why it should be a problem.
  3. I am just interested in why an atheist would choose to work in a church school. Surely as the school is supposed to reflect it's Christian status at all times that would prove difficult. There are more non church schools available than church schools so why not work in one of those? Just curious.
  4. roise

    roise New commenter

    I would talk to your mentor first before you get into any discussions with the children. While in theory cariad2 is absolutely right you could talk yourself into trouble not just with your school but with parents too, particularly if children accidentally misrepresent what you actually say. You could also have troubles the next time you teach R.E. Your mentor will have a better understanding of the school and parents and will be in a much better position to give you advice. A church school can be a tricky place for an atheist teacher to work in.
  5. There shouldn't be any problem when teaching RE. When you teach RE you are teaching what Christians believe, or what Muslims believe etc. I work in a church school and am agnostic. If asked I would be honest. I think this is perfectly acceptable. We have lots of of discussions in my class about what the children believe and how they need to decide what to believe etc. When I had my interview to get the job my beliefs weren't asked about. I am happy to lead worship when needed and we do prayers before lunch etc which the children take turns to do (they volunteer). Lots of teachers aren't Christian at my school. My children aren't, but this is their catchment school and so it is the school they go to. The children in my class know it is a place where they can discuss what they do and don't believe and I think this is crucial.
    I teach at a church school as it is local, a good school and they offered me a job! It really isn't considered a big deal where I work. I know there are quite a few other teachers who aren't Christians, but they still go along with the ethos.
  6. NQT88

    NQT88 New commenter

    Very similar reasons for why I took the job. I had never even looked at a church school before the one I'm teaching at but it was where I wanted to teach and the Key Stage. When I went to look around they were very nice and answered all of my questions one-to-one (rather than in large groups as it usually seemed to be), the children seemed lovely, the school itself seemed nice etc. So when I was asked to take the job I said yes!
    Oh and I don't currently teach RE as it fell on the day of my PPA.
    I think I will ask my mentor next time I see her, as as Roise mentioned, I'm more worried about what the children would say to the parents.
    Thanks for the advice!
  7. I am the RE subject leader at my school, and also teach P4C which requires similar skills. I would always suggest turning such questions back to the children and asking them what they feel or think. Use it as an opportunity for reflection.
    Children - especially young children - tend to think their teacher is God, and knows the answer to everything. They need to know that there are some things they must make up their own mind about, and that some questions have no right answer.
  8. jwraft

    jwraft New commenter

    When asked by children I always tell them the truth. I tell them that I do not believe in God and that different people have different beliefs and that's ok. I think children need to be given the opportunity to understand and tolerate other beliefs. As long as you don't actively impose your views on them you're not doing anything wrong. A child in my class mentioned "hating David Cameron" the other day and I laughed and nodded in agreement before realising that I might be imposing my own political beliefs, so I made it clear that someone people do like Mr Cameron (although I'm not sure who would?)

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