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Inclusive school assemblies of all beliefs.

Comment 27th July 2010

What is happening?

In England all state maintained schools are legally required to provide daily collective worship for all their pupils. In community schools the majority of the acts of daily collective worship that are provided in a given term are legally required to be of a ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’.  In ‘faith schools’ the act of worship is provided in accordance with the school's trust deed or the tenets and practices of the religion or religious denomination of the school.

This means that all school pupils are currently legally obliged to undertake an act of (usually Christian) worship each school day, regardless of their own beliefs. Although there are opportunities to opt out of this, this is only allowed if requested by the parents. This leaves young people without access to their right to freedom of belief.

Although the law on collective worship is clear, it is widely ignored, which is clearly very unhealthy in a democratic society. OFSTED's 2002-03 annual report, for example, states that ‘four fifths of schools do not hold a daily act of collective worship for all pupils’.

We are strongly in favour of inclusive school assemblies, which can help to build shared values and a sense of community. We oppose acts of collective worship in school, since these exclude many, and believe that the parental right of excusal is not a proper solution.

Why does this matter?

Freedom to choose not indoctrination by religious groups.

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