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Julian Claxton / Alamy Stock Photo
School assembly.jpg
Julian Claxton / Alamy Stock Photo
UK News

Survey reveals school leaders against legally required collective worship in England schools

by Premier Journalist

More than two in three senior leaders in state schools want a law which requires daily acts of collective worship in school to be scrapped, a new survey has revealed.

Schools in England are legally required to hold daily acts of collective worship - and for non-religious schools, it needs to be "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character".

The survey by the National Secular Society (NSS) said the government must recognise the "divisive and deeply unpopular nature" of the collective worship law in schools and repeal it.

Last month, headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh at Michaela Community School in Brent, north London , successfully defeated a legal challenge from a Muslim student following the school's ban on prayer rituals.

The pupil claimed the school's decision breached her right to religious freedom and discriminated against her.

However, in a separate poll by a PA news agency, 1,934 senior leaders and headteachers in England found that 70 per cent disagreed that all schools should be legally required to hold daily acts of collective worship.

In a letter to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan earlier this year NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "The issue of religious practice in schools is becoming increasingly fraught."

On the survey results, Mr Evans said: "Our population is more irreligious and religiously diverse than ever before. It is therefore unsurprising many teachers find imposing worship on children objectionable and unconducive to a pluralistic and cohesive learning environment.

"It's high time legislators recognised the dead letter nature of this obsolete law and repealed it."

Speaking to Premier Christian News, Dr Jonathan Chaplin, who works with the Centre for Faith and Public Life, said the law was all but token and rarely enforced.

"Ofsted basically stopped inspecting this requirement 20-odd years ago. So the law is honoured much more in the breach than in the observance."

Mr Chaplin, who is a member of the Church of England's Further and Higher Education Advisory Group added: "What you need is a pluralistic system, a localised system that protects the possibility of faith schools to engage in collective worship. A mixed economy thing is good, but without any legal compulsion, that's the problem."

 

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