UK governments urged to reconsider the practice of collective worship and religious observance in schools

The majority of schools in the UK are required by law to organise acts of collective worship (England, Northern Ireland, Wales) or religious observance (Scotland) for their pupils - but what is the purpose of collective worship/religious observance?

A report launched today at the University strongly recommends that governments in the UK should urgently consider afresh the rationale underlying these duties. It argues that there is currently no accepted rationale – and only when one is agreed can an informed debate begin on whether the current duties should be maintained or amended.

It acknowledges that the different countries in the UK may choose to take different approaches to the question of whether to maintain, abolish or amend the duty in light of the aims and values of each country’s education system.

The report, ‘Collective Worship and Religious Observance in Schools: An Evaluation of Law and Policy in the UK’, is the result of a two-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project, led by Dr Alison Mawhinney (Bangor University) and Professor Peter Cumper from Leicester's School of Law.

It is launched today (Friday 13 November) at an international conference, which will be chaired by Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, taking place at College Court between 10:00am – 4:00pm.

In addition to urging a reappraisal of the current duties, the report makes a number of recommendations with respect to the current implementation of the law and policy surrounding collective worship and religious observance.

Specific recommendations for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in regard to collective worship/religious observance, are also made in the report.

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