Thurrock mum tells why she withdrew children from school over religious teaching

A THURROCK mum has bravely spoken up about why she took her children out of religious education at a borough school.

Heather Rogers, 31, from South Ockendon, spoke at this week’s meeting of Thurrock Council’s Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) when the issue of community cohesion was at the forefront of debate after members received a report saying some parents had withdrawn children from school because they were being taught about Islam.

The meeting heard anecdotal evidence about some of five reported incidents but the words from the borough mum proved illuminating as she explained why she decided to take the drastic action – but Islam wasn’t the specific cause.

She said: “To me this is not about Islam, it is the fact that my kids came home and called it an ‘intensive’ study. If they said it was an intensive study on Christianity, I would have done the same.

“An intense study just sounds full-on. Maybe if it was worded better and they just said this week we would do such and such and explained it each week it would have sounded better but instead it’s an intense study.

“When I was growing up we would learn about all religions but I don’t agree with an intense study. Schools should teach about all of them equally so that children can decide to be part of a religion if they want to.”

She admitted her children did learn about other religions throughout the school year.

She removed her children twice over two years, with the lessons on Islam amounting to about two weeks of learning.

While she stressed that she did not take issue with the religion of Islam, some parents who had also removed their children at the same time told her that they had done so because they disagreed with Islam being taught in schools at all.

She said: “Unfortunately, with social media a lot of people only see part of the story and are a bit blinkered to understanding the whole religion. When they think of Islam they think of terrorism and destruction, but that is only extremists. Some parents do have the wrong impression because of all the media hype.”

“If they are pulling their children out for the sake of it being Islam then they need educating to know that although terrorists can be linked, that is extremism not the religion.”