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News – School worship

January 2011

School worship

So-called faith groups and humanist organisations have called upon the education minister Michael Gove to end compulsory worship in schools.

     Several teaching unions, religion and belief groups, as well as lobbying organisations such as the British Humanists Association (BHA), wrote an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, calling him to reform the laws that allow a ‘broadly Christian’ character to daily compulsory religious worship in assemblies.

     The letter called for schools to be allowed to decide for themselves, in line with the Government’s stated aim of giving schools greater freedom.

     Liberal religious group, the Accord Coalition, conducted a YouGov online poll, in which 43 per cent of people in the UK thought that schools should hold assemblies that consider ‘spiritual, moral and ethical issues shared by different religions’. Those opposing the ban on compulsory, broadly Christian, assemblies stood at 30 per cent.

     Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, chairman of Accord Coalition, said, ‘It would be much better to remove the current compulsion on schools to provide compulsory worship and allow them to provide assemblies that are better suited to their pupils’.

     The open letter also cited Ofsted’s 2002-03 annual report on secondary education, which stated that four fifths of secondary schools do not hold a daily act of collective worship for all pupils.

     Meanwhile, BHA chief executive Andrew Copson said, ‘There is no good argument for retaining a law which compels schools to hold daily acts of worship; a law which is outdated, discriminatory and most schools do not observe in any case’.

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