Urgent response required – extreme religion in the classroom
A few years ago, while visiting a local high school, one of the girls told me that her little sister had been told that their parents would go to hell because they were atheists. Who told her? Her primary school teacher. Did they complain? I believe they did, though I don’t know what the outcome was.
In another local primary school, a class had been doing some science about colours. The head teacher visited the classroom and was admiring a picture of a rainbow. She asked the artist where the colours came from. As the child began to explain what she’d learned about the refraction of light, the head teacher interrupted her. “No, no, no,” she said, “God did it!”
With examples like this of religious nuts imposing their beliefs on children, it’s good to know that such behaviour is generally frowned upon in state schools. Teachers who aim to make the classroom a religiously-neutral zone should be supported. However, religious bullies can make life very difficult.
In Surrey, Muslim parents who’d accused a primary school headteacher of “Islamophobia” were allowed to drive her out of her job and wreck the school’s religiously neutral ethos, while the county council “failed in its duty to protect her”, according to the High Court, who awarded £400,000 damages.
The Archbishop of York weighed in, telling the Daily Telegraph: “Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door … is akin to asking someone to remove their skin colour.”
Oh yes, very helpful!
The Times Educational Supplement is including a feature about how teachers or head teachers respond to extremely religious pupils (based on this story). They or their parents may upset non-believers by espousing ‘hell, fire and damnation’ etc, or insist on wearing religious jewelry/clothing that runs counter to the school uniform. How do or should schools react?
All correspondence will be treated in the strictest of confidence if required. Please contact Hannah Frankel by April 9.