Is taking our kids out of class unhelpful?

The Scottish Catholic Church has said that children who are removed from religious assemblies in Catholic schools may not be allowed to participate in other religious activities such as nativity plays or Christian festivals.

As a parent and former teacher I know that the issue of faith in school can be tricky to navigate. Parents and teachers have many differing views about the place of spirituality within the classroom. Personally, I was keen to find a school that valued Christian principles and sought to create a safe place for children to explore their own spiritual journey. While I understand that many parents feel more comfortable removing their children from certain lessons or assemblies due to the content or because it might challenge other religious teaching, I want my children to explore their own spiritual side, develop their own ideas and walk their own path.

It’s a well-known saying that God doesn’t have grandchildren. We don’t inherit Christianity from our parents. Each of us is responsible for choosing our response to Jesus Christ personally. I think that if our children’s response to faith is going to be long-lasting it is necessary for them to encounter Christianity within a world view where spirituality is not confined to traditional school assemblies. I don’t anticipate heaven including a daily rendition of ‘Autumn days’, so why should our inclusion of spirituality in schools be limited to that? It’s not a good advert, is it?

I’ve worked in schools where prayer spaces flourish, diversity is celebrated and faith is explored in action as well as theory. Community is built in places where friendship and authenticity are more important than theology or religious preference.

As parents and teachers our aim should be to bring our children up in safety to experience the amazing splendour of the world God has created, and this includes the complexities and detail that each world view provides, whether we agree with them all or not.

It is important to help our children understand faiths and beliefs that differ from their own. When education works well, children should find lessons that continually challenge and help them think about their own ideas, encouraging them to test them out and come to conclusions about what the world is like. This should be something that happens across the curriculum, including any religious education.

I think schools have a massive part to play in honouring the diversity they embody, bringing understanding to all and modelling acceptance so that when children move into adulthood they can champion their own beliefs with confidence and kindness.

Min Clarke is a parent helper at her school, having stepped back from full-time teaching a few years ago. She is also the mother of two children and a worship leader at her church.

Phones cause family arguments

A study of parents and children aged 13 to 17 found that one in five British households argue about screen time every day.

A study carried out by Common Sense Media and the University of Southern California found that a third of parents said phones interrupted conversations, while 28 per cent said they disrupted meals. Dr Bex Lewis, senior lecturer in digital marketing and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age, told Premier Youth and Children’s Work that scaremongering is sometimes involved in these studies: “I think there’s a huge amount of stuff in the media about screen time, which is actually causing concerns about screen time. It’s self-creating.” .

Chronicles of Narnia

Netflix has announced it is making a brand new version of The Chronicles of Narnia.

The streaming service has signed a multi-year deal with the C.S. Lewis Company to develop the classic stories from across the fictional Narnia universe. The deal marks the first time that rights to all seven books penned by C.S. Lewis have been held by the same company.

Douglas Gresham, the author’s stepson, said in a statement: “It is wonderful to know that folks from all over are looking forward to seeing more of Narnia, and that the advances in production and distribution technology have made it possible for us to make Narnian adventures come to life all over the world. Netflix seems to be the very best medium with which to achieve this aim, and I am looking forward to working with them towards this goal.”

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said: “Families have fallen in love with characters like Aslan and the entire world of Narnia, and we’re thrilled to be their home for years to come.”