A call to abolish collective worship in schools

The National Assembly for Wales have put up an e-Petition to abolish collective worship in schools:

As it stands, the law requires all schools to hold an act of collective worship every day. Even in schools that aren’t ‘faith’ schools, this must be ‘broadly Christian’ in character. In a society which is increasingly diverse, this is an affront to the rights of young people to express their beliefs freely. Although there is the opportunity to opt out, this is reliant on parental permission and is not respected by all schools. The law is extremely unpopular, with opinion polls showing teachers don’t want it, parents don’t want it, and children don’t want it. As such, it is long past time for the daily act of collective worship to be replaced with inclusive assemblies that add to cohesion and a sense of community within the school. We petition the Government to repeal the requirement for compulsory collective worship in schools and to encourage schools to hold educational assemblies that will include all children, regardless of religion or non-religious belief.

Long overdue. One of my main memories of Torpoint School was of myself and a friend being punished by a particularly nasty geography teacher after failing to sing along in an assembly. He forced us to sing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ in front of his next (much more senior) class.

From the British Humanist Association website:

The ComRes English poll for the BBC Regional Religion Unit found that 60% of the public did not think the requirement to hold a daily act of collective worship should be enforced, versus 33% who thought it should be. 30% of parents thought it should be enforced, versus 39% of those without children. 51% of over-65s thought it should be enforced, but just 29% of 18-24 year olds thought likewise. The BBC also asked parents whether their children were attending collective worship at their school. 28% reported their children were, whilst 64% reported their children were not. Many reported that in practice, schools held assemblies less regularly, and that these were used to teach children more generally about morals and ethics.