Primary schools have been opting out of teaching the Bible in class as support from parents and students wanes.

At least three Auckland schools have dropped the Bible in Schools programme in the past three years. Browns Bay and Campbells Bay schools on the North Shore pulled out of the programme this year.

Browns Bay principal Roger Harnett said parents had been withdrawing their children from the Churches Education Commission programme.

Last year, about 50 students dropped out from a roll of 500, but Mr Harnett said complaints increased when students saw their friends choosing to opt out and persuaded their own parents to let them drop the class too.


This year, the board of trustees decided to cancel the programme because they were having a problem catering for the increasing number of students withdrawing. It made the decision after a review of all non-curriculum activities.

"Parents have ample opportunity to teach children about the Bible outside school time," Mr Harnett said yesterday.

The Browns Bay Presbyterian Church wrote to the board in May opposing the decision.

As well, some parents felt they had not been consulted. "The [most frustrating thing] was that no one told us, it just happened," said one, Marianette Moller.

She said the classes benefited her son Daniel, 9, because they taught Christian values as well as the Bible.

Campbells Bay School's religious programme was shut down this year because of a lack of parental support.

Robin Palmer, of Browns Bay Presbyterian Church, was concerned that children whose schools did not use the Bible in Schools programme would be at a disadvantage. "We regard the programme as adding value to the school, and it's been around for many years."