Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Remove the statutory obligation in schools to provide a 'broadly Christian' daily assembly - petition

reposted from:
Chris Street comments are in bright green;
highlights in yellow blockquotes.

Schoolassembly - epetition reply

20 November 2007

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Remove the statutory obligation in schools to provide a 'broadly Christian' daily assembly."

Details of Petition:

"Religious observance in schools is divisive, especially when the obligation is exclusively to the Christian faith. The link between state education and religious observance should be removed completely allowing atheists and those of other faiths to participate in school life on an equal basis. Allowing an individual to "opt out" is not sufficient as this categorises and potentially stigmatises children. Furthermore in rural areas often ONLY faith schools are available locally. This discriminates against non-religious children and teachers (who often can't be employed without religious hypocrisy) and those of other faiths."

Read the Government's response

The Government believes that Collective Worship stimulates thinking and encourages pupils to learn about Christianity as well other religions and belief systems, nurturing respect and tolerance. It also offers schools a unique opportunity to develop their particular ethos and set of shared values.

All maintained schools are required to carry out a daily act of Collective Worship of a broadly Christian nature for all pupils. This reflects the religious tradition of this country. For schools where this is not appropriate the head teacher can apply to the local authority to have it lifted so that the Collective Worship in that school does not have to be of a Christian nature.

Every parent has the right to withdraw their child from Collective Worship and we believe this is important. In addition, from 1 September 2007, a new clause in the 2006 Education and Inspections Act came into force which gives students over the age of 16 the right to opt out of collective worship, without parental consent.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families will be updating their guidance for schools on Collective Worship to ensure that schools are aware of these issues.

In rural areas, Church of England schools have traditionally seen their role as catering for all the children in an area and admission arrangements for church primary schools in rural areas make no distinction amongst pupils.

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