Saturday, 25 October 2008

The right to withdraw your child from RE

Parents have the statutory right under Section 71 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (shown
below) to withdraw their children from RE lessons and acts of Collective Worship at all maintained schools,
including faith schools. Sadly, less than 1% of parents exercise this right; and most of them are Muslims,
unhappy at their children being taught about other faiths.

Specimen letter to head teacher:

Dear Head Teacher
As the parents of XXXXXX, we are writing formally to give notice that we are requesting [him/her] being withdrawn from RE lessons and acts of Collective Worship at your school with immediate effect in accordance with Section 71 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.
You are doubtless aware that the right to withdraw children from RE lessons and religious worship in schools is unconditional and can even be exercised in schools that are religious in nature.

I am confident that I can count on you to take all necessary action to ensure that this formal request is complied with, but emphasize that I wish my child to continue to attend assembly except for the Collective Worship element.

I am sure I can count on you to ensure that this request will not result in XXXX being treated by staff in any disadvantageous way. I only mention this as is not unknown for such requests to be met with the child being excluded from the whole of assembly or, while withdrawn from RE, to be allocated
some menial task.
Clearly, such victimization would be completely unacceptable.

[I would however be grateful were the school to make arrangements for alternative lessons to be given to my child during the time when they would have been attending RE lessons and, if their length warrants it, acts
of Collective Worship.
If alternative lessons are not provided, we ask that our child be given the opportunity for private study during the time withdrawn.]

As you know, there is no requirement for us to give any explanation for our decision, nor do we wish to do so. The decision we have made is final and we are not prepared to enter into any further negotiations on the matter, save, perhaps, over the practical details of implementation. If you wish to raise any questions of this nature, we would prefer them to be made in writing.

Yours faithfully


(The above passage in parentheses may be omitted as being over-ambitious as, in practice; it is likely that the child will be asked to sit in with another class.)

Withdrawing your child from RE (pdf)

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