"Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Issues relating to promoting a secular state education and raising children in a non-religious home
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NorthOfTheBorder
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"Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by NorthOfTheBorder » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:39 pm

The Northern Ireland education system has just succeeded in pissing me off and my daughter's not even started school yet! she's entering primary school in September and we're applying to get her in to the local integrated school. Paperwork was all done & dusted and submitted to the school, with one annoyance being their monitoring form where they want to know about your child's "perceived community background", giving you 4 options to pick from - Catholic, Protestant, Other Christian and non-Christian (described with a list of religions such as Jewish, Muslim etc. - no mention of "none"). After some minor fuming about the closed-mindedness of some school secretary who must have made up the form without considering that there might just possibly be children out there without a religion, I wrote in "None of the above", we sent in the form and thought no more of it. Until tonight, when the school principal called to tell us that, in fact, the list of options on the form are actually dictated by the department of education and we have to tick one of the 4. So my daughter's not officially allowed to be considered as not having a religion when applying for a place in a school that's supposed to be (by the integrated sector's own description) for "All faiths and none" :evil:
“I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong”

Richard Feynman on doubt,uncertainty and religion
Tulip1
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by Tulip1 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:02 pm

I feel an email to the department coming on???
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
chemicals
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by chemicals » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:29 am

Indeed you should not let that one go -follow it up
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Beebub
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by Beebub » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:41 am

What they really want to know is she a catholic atheist or a protestant atheist.
chemicals
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by chemicals » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:25 pm

Beebub wrote:What they really want to know is she a catholic atheist or a protestant atheist.
joking aside - that's probably correct :shock:
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by Dr Raskolnikov » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:32 pm

Don't let them get away with it! This would never happen anywhere else in the UK, highlight it to the slumbering populace - get it on the Today Programme... :wink:
Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know. Important things. - Ned Flanders
NorthOfTheBorder
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by NorthOfTheBorder » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:49 pm

Tulip1 wrote:I feel an email to the department coming on???
Quite possibly, I have form in that regard, having badgered the previous holder of that office about her responses to DUP young-earth-creationist-inspired questions in the assembly :). Last night I was just too pissed off about the whole thing to do anything about it, but on reflection they're still bastards and still need the fact pointed out to them (diplomatically, of course...)
Beebub wrote:What they really want to know is she a catholic atheist or a protestant atheist.
Annoyingly, that is probably exactly what they want to know. You get the same crap on census & other official forms here, where they tend not to ask what you are or you you see yourself, but what your background is. Like asking what school you went to, which is just another way of asking what foot you kick with :(
“I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong”

Richard Feynman on doubt,uncertainty and religion
Marks
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by Marks » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:16 pm

The following might be of some help to you if you decide to complain to the Dept of Education.

Everyone has the right to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. You could complain about the abuse of your human right under Article 8 of the European Convention.

The link below is a Submission by the Irish Human Rights Commission to the Dept of Education here south of the border. They refer to the right to private and family life in relation to admissions to schools. Of course this human right means the same north or south of the border.

http://www.ihrc.ie/publications/list/ih ... ctober-20/

Have a look at page 8 of this document which discusses Article 8 of the European Convention. There are two sections of Article 8 and the second part should be of interest. It says that there should be no interference by a public authority with the right to private and family life except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

You have stated that this is an integrated school which begs the question why do they need to know what religion or background the pupils come from. I cannot see how it is in the interests of national security, public safety, the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others for the Dept of Education to know whether you have a religion or not and what background you come from. In addition there should be no interference except such as is in accordance with the law. Is there a piece of legislation that obliges the school to ask you this question? If there is legislation then that legislation must be in accordance with section 2 of Article 8.

You could write to them and refuse to answer this question as it breaches your human rights under Article 8 of the European Convention. You could also send a copy of the letter to the Human Rights Commission in the north. The Principal has said that the question was dictated by the Dept of Education. Dictated does not mean the law.
NorthOfTheBorder
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Re: "Integrated" school application with no non-religious option

Post by NorthOfTheBorder » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:45 pm

Thanks Marks, that's interesting - gives me another possible angle to approach this from :)
“I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong”

Richard Feynman on doubt,uncertainty and religion
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