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Since 2010 it has been NGA’s position that the daily act of collective worship for schools without a religious character should be non-mandatory. At its recent meeting the NGA’s Policy Committee reviewed this position and decided that the NGA should seek the abolition of the requirement.
This is specifically about schools without a religious character. Where parents have sent their child to a school with a religious character it is in the knowledge that the particular faith and its worship is at the core of the ethos of the school.
Neither does this alter our position on religious education; it is important that students should continue to be taught a broad and balanced curriculum that encourages a knowledge and understanding of all faiths.
Few schools can or do meet the current legislative requirement for a daily act of collective worship, partly because there isn’t space in most schools to gather students together, and often staff are unable or unwilling to lead a collective worship session. There is also the added issue that worship implies belief in a particular faith - if the ‘act of worship’ is not in your faith then it is meaningless as an act of worship. The view was taken that schools are not places of worship, but places of education, and expecting the worship of a religion or religions in schools without a religious character should not be a compulsory part of education in England today
Removing the collective worship from the remit of schools that do not have a religious character does not prevent them from holding assemblies that address a whole range of topics, including faith and belief.
In response to the Telegraph’s piece, Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: ‘Worship for those of religious belief is very meaningful; and it is at the heart of schools with a religious character. However it is not reasonable to expect schools which do not have a religious character to conduct a daily act of collective worship. Most do not have the required space or the staff to lead a daily act of worship. The National Governors' Association encourages all schools to put spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils centre stage.’
Tony Breslin asks if it is time to put spiritual, moral, social and cultural development at the heart of the school improvement agenda. Click here to view.