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Opting out

Even in schools with a religious designation such as Hope Community School, Sidcup there may well be some families who wish to opt out of any teaching about religion.

When presented with a request for withdrawal from either Religious Education or Collective Worship it is very important that both school and parents/carers fully understand the options the law allows.  A request should be made in writing and when received the Principal (possibly with the class teacher and/or RE co-ordinator) will discuss the request with the parent/carer.  The school will ensure the RE policies, Statement of Entitlement, syllabus and schemes of work are available and that parents understand the subject’s aims and learning objectives. The rationale for Collective Worship alongside the themes and topics for the term should also be shared and parents/carers should be given the opportunity to read these properly before discussing the information. The school’s religious designation should also be explained stressing how the ethos is inclusive and respects personal beliefs. They should then discuss the practical implications of withdrawal and the circumstances in which it would be reasonable to accommodate parents’/carers' wishes. The parent/carer could be invited to observe a lesson, time of worship or visiting speaker or accompany a visit. This may provide reassurance that the approach being adopted is one of genuine open enquiry that respects the beliefs of all children.

If parents/carers choose to withdraw their child from either RE or Collective Worship arrangements should be made to provide the pupil with the kind of RE that the parents/carers wants.  In these cases the parents/carers should work with the Principal on ensuring alternative, appropriate materials and resources are available. These should have clear outcomes and be in line with British values and those of the school.