Brent Council has become the first in Britain to go against government stipulations that state-funded schools should have a daily act of ‘broadly Christian’ worship. The local council allows schools in its borough to provide multi-belief assemblies.
Its approach has been hailed by some education experts as ‘ground-breaking’ and having the potential to lead to a dramatic change in assemblies across England and Wales, if copied by other local authorities.
The council’s religious education committee concluded that multi-belief assemblies, which draw on material and practice of special meaning from different religions and from non-religious views, are the most appropriate for the Borough’s schools. It now encourages all of its schools to apply for permission to provide these kind of assemblies.
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chairman of liberal education think-tank Accord, commented, ‘Society may be Christian-based, but is multi-faith, with many also of no belief-system. So uniform worship should no longer be compulsory for our educational system.
‘The current worship laws are unpopular and prevent schools from providing an inspiring programme of assemblies that are truly inclusive of all staff and children. Some schools find the laws so unworkable that they have stopped providing assemblies altogether. As society does not have a shared faith, we cannot worship together’.