Humanists UK backs academics’ calls to ban collective worship in schools

Today (Wednesday) sees the publication of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain’s new pamphlet, How to regulate faith schools, which recommends a ban on collective worship in schools, and moves towards inclusive admissions arrangements and religious education in all schools. Responding to the pamphlet’s release, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘The UK is the only country in the world to mandate Christian worship in state-funded schools, which means children are expected to take part in compulsory collective worship such as saying prayers and singing hymns as part of their day-to-day experience at school.

‘The current law, which forces young children to partake in religious acts of worship unless their parents opt them out, is morally wrong and ignores the rights of children to have a rounded and broad education free from direct religious influence.

‘Instead, the school system should be fostering a culture where students are encouraged to make decisions for themselves about want they want to participate in and this should be done through inclusive assemblies which offer spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development that is equally inclusive of all students.

‘We welcome calls by this coalition of leading academics to end collective worship in schools and we also are calling for faith schools to be abolished in the UK.

‘If we are to move to more united and less segregated future, we need a genuinely inclusive school system where all pupils, regardless of their backgrounds and beliefs, are educated together and not separately according to the religious character of the school.

‘We also support moves to reform religious education in schools so that children learn about religions and about humanism in a critical, objective, and pluralistic way, and not in a way that allows schools to encourage particular religious beliefs upon children as part of the curriculum.’