couple who took their daughter out of a school class based on
the Bible were dismayed to find her left alone in a classroom
"naughty corner" with a book during the 35-minute lesson.
Jeff McClintock posted a photograph of his 7-year-old
daughter Violet on the Secular Education Network Facebook
page showing the little girl kneeling on the floor next to a
rubbish bin as she read the book, at Red Beach School,
Mr McClintock said he was told the school had an alternative
programme for children who opted out of the weekly Values in
When he arrived one day to check on her he found her in the
corner children are sent to for being naughty.
"Last year my daughter spent a total of 4.5 days sitting in
"Also bear in mind she's in earshot of her friends singing,
doing fun activities and hearing stories."
He said that his daughter had "promised not to be naughty
again" when she returned home after one of the opt-out
Mr McClintock and his wife took a stand against the class
when as a 5-year-old Violet began asking if she could "meet
"We went along to have a look and realised it was run by very
He said although the school asked parents for permission for
their children to learn Values in Action, he said it was not
clear until he pressed the previous principal and board of
trustees who agreed it was "religious instruction".
That was more than three years after a 2008 Education Review
Office report advised the board to clarify exactly what the
More than 40 per cent of state schools offer Bible studies
with about 2000 untrained volunteer teachers from outside the
The classes must not be held in school hours but schools can
circumvent the law by "closing" the classroom for the
duration of the studies, which usually last up to 30 minutes.
The McClintocks have complained to the Ombudsman, saying the
school is not meeting requirements around education hours
because of time allocated for the Bible studies classes.
Mr McClintock now takes Violet out of the classroom corner
once a week for a walk while Values in Action is taught.
Red Beach School principal Julie Hepburn and board of
trustees chairman Malcolm Haggerty did not return Herald
messages. A spokeswoman for Values In Action said they did
not want to comment.
A state school can choose whether to include religious
classes as part of its curriculum.
School boards do not have to notify parents on choosing to
include religious classes, but most schools discuss the issue
A parent can have their child "opt out" of classes.
It is the school board's responsibility to come up with an
alternative arrangement for students who opt out.
No other religious instruction can take place at a secular
The Education Act 1964