ESS member Fiona Smit supports the ESS in the Herald

one mother’s story

Fiona Smit, an Edinburgh florist, recently asked for her six-year-old son to be withdrawn from religious observance activities in his primary school.

Smit, pictured right, with her son, Marley, said she had not been aware opting out was possible until she read about the petition lodged to Edinburgh City Council.

But she said she has concerns about what Marley will do when he is not participating in religious activities at Ferryhill Primary, a non-denominational school in Edinburgh.

Smit, 30, said: “I hadn’t even realised ministers did assemblies until recently, as the school had never told us.

“A few months ago, I did witness an assembly and the headteacher said we had a special guest: a chaplain from the local church who was saying the children should read the Bible as it will help them get through life and the dark times. I was taken aback.”

Smit, who has chosen to live her life without religion, has received confirmation from the school that her request has been noted, and Marley will take part in language or social studies with a member of staff until longer-term arrangements are made.

She added: “You have got to make a stand at some point – I don’t want my child to be involved in it, so why should I be made to feel wrong?

“I am all for the complete removal of all religious observance in schools.

Edinburgh City Council said it had a policy on religious observance in schools which says they will deal with requests to opt out with “sensitivity and understanding”.

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