Collective worship should be scrapped, says study

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A new study for the Arts and Humanities Research Council says that the duty of British schools to arrange daily acts of collective worship should be scrapped.

The report the by University of Leicester adds there is no clear rationale for the duty, and that parents are often unaware they can withdraw their children from religious assemblies.

The report recommends that if no rationale can be found for a collective activity in schools, then the current duties should be abolished.

It acknowledges that the different countries in the UK may choose to take different approaches to the question of whether to maintain, abolish or amend the duty in light of the aims and values of each country’s education system.

In addition to urging a reappraisal of the current duties, the report makes a number of recommendations with respect to the current implementation of the law and policy surrounding collective worship and religious observance.  It recommends that:

·         All educational authorities in the UK should issue guidelines to schools to clarify that the right to withdraw from acts of collective worship/religious observance extends to all schools

·         All schools in the UK should clearly publicize the content and format of acts of collective worship/religious observance so that parents and pupils are knowledgeable about what happens during these activities, and able to make informed decisions about whether to opt out

·         All schools in the UK should make parents and pupils aware of the right to opt out of acts of collective worship/religious observance

·         All schools in the UK should provide appropriate alternative activities, with educational value, where opt outs have been requested

The Department for Education said the daily act of collective worship encourages children to reflect on belief, and helps shape fundamental British values of tolerance, respect and understanding for others. "It is for schools to tailor their provision to suit the needs of their pupils, and parents can withdraw their children from all or any part of collective worship," a spokesman added.

Specific recommendations for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in regard to collective worship/religious observance, are also made in the report.

Every Child Update
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