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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Collective Worship

The law in England and Wales requires that children at all maintained schools "shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship". In community schools, the worship must be wholly or mainly of a Christian character. In Academies and free schools the arrangements will depend on the funding agreement, which will usually have a compulsory worship element built in.

Britain is the only Western democracy to require worship in non-religious publicly funded schools.

We maintain that imposing compulsory worship by law is a violation of young people's and their parents' rights. Furthermore, it is neither appropriate nor practical for the state to impose compulsory worship on any citizen, whether adult or child.

We fully appreciate that school assemblies provide an excellent opportunity to bring members of a school together and create a sense of community; we recognise that assemblies with an ethical framework can make a vital contribution to school life. We do not however believe that it is appropriate to do so within a religious context.

We have long campaigned for an end to compulsory worship in schools and use every possible opportunity to challenge the existing legislation.

Most recently we worked with peers in the House of Lords in an attempt to make changes to the Education Act 2010 to make worship optional, rather than compulsory for schools. Despite making a compelling case for the removal of compulsory worship, the Government opted to keep the current requirement.

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