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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Evangelism in schools - recommendations

Read our report on the activities of evangelical organisations in state schools:
Evangelism in schools ­– The role of external visitors in publicly funded education


We call on the Department for Education to:

  1. Issue national guidance to schools setting out best practice for working with external visitors and contributors, and particularly religion and belief groups.
  2. Ensure that accompanying non-statutory guidance relating to any subject area that may involve visits from religion and belief groups (but particularly RE) makes clear that schools must not offer opportunities to groups seeking to evangelise.

We call on all LEAs and schools to:

1) Publish and adhere to an external visitor's policy which:

a) Places a duty on head teachers and RE providers to ensure they are aware of the external contributor's values, aims and objectives and their reasons for working with schools.

b) Forbids proselytizing and evangelism. In the same way that teachers are forbidden by law from promoting partisan political views during teaching, we believe it would constitute best practice for schools to place limitations on the promotion of partisan religious views in the classroom. These should be accepted in writing by the contributors and their organisations before they are permitted to contribute. Schools should cease to work with any organisation or individual who breaks this undertaking.

c) Makes clear that parents should be given prior and relevant information about the group visiting, and that they must be notified sufficiently far in advance of visits to be able to withdraw their child if they so wish.

d) Stipulates that when external groups are invited to assist with educational provision, the parameters of what is acceptable are agreed upon between the school and external visitor in advance. External groups should also be required to submit lesson plans in advance for approval and to facilitate notification in summary to parents.

e) Stipulates that a teacher or teaching assistant should always be present to ensure the parameters are not violated.

f) Makes clear that schools should only consider soliciting external visits from religion and belief groups when a specifically identified need within the syllabus has been identified.

2) Ensure that school budgets are not misused on evangelisation, all children are equally and appropriately catered for – regardless of religion or belief – and all pastoral roles within schools should be provided in an inclusive and secular context.

We call on SACREs2 to:

1) Monitor and publish details about external visitors to religious education and Collective Worship as part its annual report.

We call on parents to:

1) Raise any concerns about the appropriateness of external visitors with the school's head teacher in the first instance, and if necessary, also with the Governors or LEA.

2) Inform the NSS of concerns about the appropriateness of external school visitors.

We call on the Department for Education to:

  1. Issue national guidance to schools setting out best practice for working with external visitors and contributors, and particularly religion and belief groups.
  2. Ensure that accompanying non-statutory guidance relating to any subject area that may involve visits from religion and belief groups (but particularly RE) makes clear that schools must not offer opportunities to groups seeking to evangelise.

We call on all LEAs and schools to:

1) Publish and adhere to an external visitor's policy which:

a) Places a duty on head teachers and RE providers to ensure they are aware of the external contributor's values, aims and objectives and their reasons for working with schools.

b) Forbids proselytizing and evangelism. In the same way that teachers are forbidden by law from promoting partisan political views during teaching, we believe it would constitute best practice for schools to place limitations on the promotion of partisan religious views in the classroom. These should be accepted in writing by the contributors and their organisations before they are permitted to contribute. Schools should cease to work with any organisation or individual who breaks this undertaking.

c) Makes clear that parents should be given prior and relevant information about the group visiting, and that they must be notified sufficiently far in advance of visits to be able to withdraw their child if they so wish.

d) Stipulates that when external groups are invited to assist with educational provision, the parameters of what is acceptable are agreed upon between the school and external visitor in advance. External groups should also be required to submit lesson plans in advance for approval and to facilitate notification in summary to parents.

e) Stipulates that a teacher or teaching assistant should always be present to ensure the parameters are not violated.

f) Makes clear that schools should only consider soliciting external visits from religion and belief groups when a specifically identified need within the syllabus has been identified.

2) Ensure that school budgets are not misused on evangelisation, all children are equally and appropriately catered for – regardless of religion or belief – and all pastoral roles within schools should be provided in an inclusive and secular context.

We call on SACREs to:

1) Monitor and publish details about external visitors to religious education and Collective Worship as part its annual report.

We call on parents to:

1) Raise any concerns about the appropriateness of external visitors with the school's head teacher in the first instance, and if necessary, also with the Governors or LEA.

2) Inform the NSS of concerns about the appropriateness of external school visitors.