Schools Week report that more than 125 schools have opted-out of Collective Worship in the past 3 years. These schools have applied to be exempt from the legal requirement to hold Collective Worship of a “wholly or broadly Christian character”.
Schools Week used a freedom of information request to ask all local authority Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) about the number of ‘determinations’ or opt-outs from Collective Worship.
“Determinations allow schools to amend their collective worship from being “wholly or broadly” Christian in nature. A full determination allows a school to change to a different religion – for example, a school with a largely Muslim population could hold Islamic worship. A part determination allows different acts of collective worship to suit different faiths within a school, including atheists and agnostics.”
Schools Week, 17th July 2015
As of January 2014, I calculate there were 11,744 Community & Voluntary Controlled Schools. So the 125 schools that have opted-out of Collective Worship represent just 1% of all such schools. From my experience on Dorset SACRE, community schools often ignore the legal requirement for an act of collective worship, but that doesn’t mean that the law should still exist. In 2002/3 Annual Report, Ofsted estimated that four fifths of schools do not hold a daily act of collective worship for all pupils.
Atheism UKs policy is for Collective Worship to be abolished. Similar sentiments have been made by the NSS and BHA. It is time that the 1944 Education Act was scrapped:
“the school day in every county school and in every voluntary school shall begin with collective worship on the part of all pupils in attendance at the school..” 1944 Education Act
“The current requirement in statute for an act of collective worship should be abolished, and the decision about the form and character of school assemblies should be left to the governors of individual schools.”
I’d be interested to hear from Atheism UK members and supporters about your suggestions how we can practically help to hasten the demise of CW.
Chris Street, President