More news from the parents revolt happening in New Zealand!
Parents are questioning the legality of religious classes in public primary schools.
Torbay School has this term begun Christian religious education for years 3 to 6.
Principal Wendy Sandifer says the school is closed from 2.25pm to 2.55pm for year 3 to 6 religious instruction, while year 1 and 2 classes carry on as usual.
Facebook group Keep Religion Out of Schools founder Peter Harrison says this means the school is breaking the law by remaining open.
“If the school is closed, it’s closed. If there are other classes going on, regardless of what year level then the school is not actually closed,” Mr Harrison says.
Parent Bruce Hubbard says his stepchild will not participate in the religious classes, but is concerned she is now being left unsupervised.
“Originally she was told to pick up rubbish instead of religious class. We said `absolutely not’ and that we wanted an alternative class,” Mr Hubbard says.
“They told us no classes were available because they were closed, so we fought for them to go into the library instead.”
Mr Hubbard says he then discovered his stepchild sitting unsupervised in the playground one afternoon while her classmates were in religious class.
“She was just sitting out there on a bench, kicking her heels and looking really down. That’s not her – she’s normally a really happy and gregarious child.
We are really worried about the emotional impact it’s having on her,” he says.
Ms Sandifer says no alternative to religious class is provided but denies students are left
unsupervised if they opt out.
“They go to the library, read books and talk.
“But in the spirit of offering Christian religious education we don’t offer anything that is in conflict with that,” she says.
“We didn’t want to offer anything children might perceive to be better than Christian religious education.”
Mr Hubbard says, “that shows a real agenda to me”.
“You want children to compare and to make these decisions,” he says.
“Torbay is a good school. I really want my child to go there, but not when they are missing out on a full and normal education,” he says.
Mr Hubbard says he is “not anti-religion but pro-education” and would like to see religious classes moved to outside of school hours.
Torbay School parents must provide a signed note each week and an email to the principal if they wish to keep their child out of religious education.
The school will review the inclusion of religious classes at the end of this year.
Ms Sandifer says if 15 to 20 per cent of parents oppose it then it will cease.
– © Fairfax NZ News