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Dave Thompson/PA Wire
UK News

42 schools ditch Christian assemblies

Currently all state funded schools in England and Wales are legally required to hold a daily act of worship of a 'broadly Christian nature'.

It's been reported that 42 schools have successfully applied to their local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) board to opt out of the collective worship in the past three years, with many requesting to hold "multi-faith" assemblies instead.

Rev Steven Terry from the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education told Premier it is culturally inappropriate to require children of all faiths and none to adhere to this law.

"I think this is very welcome news. I only wish that more schools were doing it.

"We live in an increasingly diverse society and to have a situation where we're still required by law to offer a daily act of worship of a broadly Christian character is, I think increasingly inappropriate, given how many different cultures and different faiths systems are now represented in our society today."

Terry was optimistic that Christianity still had a presence within schools but went on to say that an exposure to different beliefs provides a realistic and balanced education for children.

"We're not taking Christianity out of the school place. By doing this, we're certainly allotting it a proper place within the context of a multi faith community.

"One shouldn't feel threatened as a Christian by having other faith systems or indeed non-belief systems, like humanism, discussed in an educational context. Educators are there to teach our children and young people about the world as it is, not about the world as we would like it to be."

Of the 134 local authorities to respond to a Freedom of Information request from Schools Week, 12 had received applications from schools in the past three years to change their collective worship.

Holbrook Primary School, in Coventry, was the only school among them to have opted for assemblies of no faith.

Meanwhile, Plashet School, in Newham, was given permission to run a combination of alternative faith, multi-faith and no faith elements throughout each week.

Director of the Catholic Education Service, Paul Barber told Premier he believes a daily act of worship should be upheld within schools.

"Collective worship is really important in a well-rounded education.

"It's important that the culture into which our pupils in all schools are inculcated is something that has as its basis, the shared culture of our country. And many of the values that we have, as a country come from our Christian heritage."

Barber went on to say that the Christian story is integral to a British education and stressed that its omission "is lacking something and potentially failing our children".

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