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AIBU to be surprised how few people know all UK state schools include compulsory Christian worship?

(184 Posts)
TheMightyMojoceratops Tue 23-Oct-12 14:08:20

The law in England and Wales states that ALL state schools "shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship... wholly or mainly of a Christian character". All UK state schools have to do this: at least 51% of collective worship - often embedded in assemblies - has to be Christian. And this is worship, as distinct from education.

Yet I quite often see threads on here where people are surprised to find their children are coming home saying things like "we said thanks to God today", or "it makes me sad God died for me"... Christian worship is a legal requirement in school, even if it's one I disagree with. Most people I talk to seem unaware of this and express surprise when it's explained to them.

AIBU to be surprised that more parents aren't aware of this?

TheMightyMojoceratops Tue 23-Oct-12 14:08:39

To be clear, I think Religious Education is an important part of the curriculum, however I do not believe religious worship has any place in a secular school. The separation of church and state is an important one. I don't think worship of any sort has a place in schools, outside of faith schools where that faith has explicitly been chosen and opted into by the parents. And I do wonder if it is an awareness issue, whether it is because people don't know about this legislation, that it's not been updated/dropped. Or do most people know and are comfortable with it?

weegiemum Tue 23-Oct-12 14:10:11

It's not all uk schools though. We live in Scotland (which last time I checked was still part of the uk) and it's twice a term here!

TheMightyMojoceratops Tue 23-Oct-12 14:12:01

I did say in my OP it was the law in England and Wales - fair point that I did put UK in my title, apologies.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 23-Oct-12 14:14:25

I think it should be scrapped, but yes, I did know it was the law. Only from mates doing teacher training, though.

picnicbasketcase Tue 23-Oct-12 14:14:49

Yes, everyone should be aware of the 'broadly Christian' aspect of assemblies. I'm just not sure why it is necessary. It irks me that someone has decided that non faith schools still basically have a religion. If Christianity was given equal weight with other faiths it wouldn't bother me nearly as much. I have chosen to send my DC to a normal county primary school, not a C of E school but they are still made to say prayers. At no point has the school ever actively made parents aware of it and must assume that it is common knowledge but clearly it can't be judging by a lot of threads on here.

DuelingFanjo Tue 23-Oct-12 14:23:51

"Most people I talk to seem unaware of this and express surprise when it's explained to them. "

I think most people are surprised because the whole thing is so ludicrous that it seems unbelievable that it would be the default position to fill kids heads with christian belief.

I was kept out of religious assemblies by my parents when small so I was aware that this was an option. I think it should be the other way around though - that parents should opt in if they want their children to do daily/weekly worship.

I mean... this statement "shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship... wholly or mainly of a Christian character" why exactly? Why is this actually enforced by law. It's just utterly ridiculous.

pmcblonde Tue 23-Oct-12 14:29:55

It's not all schools - a school can apply for a SACRE exemption where there are grounds to do so.

TheMightyMojoceratops Tue 23-Oct-12 14:34:30

You can get a SACRE exemption but you have to provide alternative worship, I think... so there's still the issue of worship being mixed up with education.

phoenixrose314 Tue 23-Oct-12 14:35:39

It is up to the school to decide how Christian, or otherwise, to be.

I work in a primary school and yes, we have a collective worship every day - but there is no mention of deity whatsoever. We simply take two minutes at the end of every assembly to "think" on something - for my assembly last time we were thinking about ways we could be kinder to people we take for granted (parents, friends, siblings), letting them know we ae grateful to have them in our lives.

A lot of schools, at least in my area, do it like this. Once a week we have the local church come in, and all non-Christian children do not attend that assembly and instead spend time on their own personal projects.

I don't see the problem with it. Nor do any of our parents, religious or otherwise.

tiggytape Tue 23-Oct-12 14:39:10

SACRE doesn't exclude schools from a daily obligation to worship.
They can get a SACRE for example if 90% of pupils are Muslim or Jewish or any other faith and remove the Christian element from it but collective worship in the form of actual worship must still continue (as separate from R.E which is more 'some people believe...' rather than worshipping as truth).

Only the parents can change this by withdrawing their child from it.

PumpkInDublic Tue 23-Oct-12 14:42:00

If I could request DS was not present for prayer and worship without making him stand out I would.

At the moment we're going with the "Just because an adult tells you something it doesn't make it so." We encourage him to be respectful of other's beliefs and faiths but not to accept blindly.

(We applied the same rule to stranger danger / appropriate contact with adults too, i.e. If Mr Nextdoor told you to get in his car and that Mummy had said it was ok should you just do it as he is an adult you know, or should you go ask Mummy first?)

I agree with Mightly, RE is an important part of the curriculum and encourages tolerance and understanding. But as an Atheist I'm trying not to impose my views and let DS make up his own mind, I wish schools would do the same.

PandaNot Tue 23-Oct-12 14:43:53

I don't think most people do know that this is enshrined in law, hence the many threads about such things. But there is no separation of church and state in the UK and I don't think lots of people know this either.

PandaNot Tue 23-Oct-12 14:45:13

Oh and most schools would rather not have daily worship either, they only do it because they have to!

Absy Tue 23-Oct-12 14:46:35

I knew, as wasn't there a kerfuffle about it last year, when they found out that most schools don't actually do it?

I do find it very odd though (and am a religious person, though not Christian) requiring everyone in a school to worship collectively on a weekly basis, regardless of whether or not they actually have that belief. Very odd.

Absy Tue 23-Oct-12 14:47:21

Sorry, daily, not weekly. Even odder

YourHandInMyHand Tue 23-Oct-12 14:51:43

I only realised this last month when my DS (who was been in state preschool and primary school) was shocked I didn't want to talk to the JWs who came to the door and asked why I didn't believe in god! shock

He is autistic and tells me nothing about his day. I was extremely surprised to realise he had been worshipping god everyday of term time whilst I was completely unawares.

I am all for RE. Christians believe....... Muslims believe...... and so on. Not so keen on the worship and if I had known I would have asked he not be included in it.

VeritableSmorgasbord Tue 23-Oct-12 14:52:39

Reasons people are surprised:

Most people (even those who've been baptised) live a life free from religious worship or thought and it is odd to them to suddenly have to factor this into their lives.

Most other countries with which we are familiar as having a Christian history have a separation of church and state, and while we clearly do not have this separation, if you're not paying attention to how many bishops are sitting in the Lords on a given day, you might be forgiven for thinking 'that's just how it is'.

Many people do not care enough to research the state of legislation today and actually many parents of small children are too young to have had any awareness of the debate which took place when the legislation came in (80s? early 90s?).

fluffyanimal Tue 23-Oct-12 14:58:56

I knew about this. I'm not that surprised that many people don't realise this, since there are also faith schools within the state system, so people are likely to assume that if your school is not a CofE school, for example, then it is completely secular.

What surprises me more, however, is how bothered people get by this. Most Brits over a certain age would have had more overt Christian worship and RI rather than RE at school, and a good deal of them will have gone on to be atheist. I am one such atheist, and I went to a Catholic school. What do people think is going to happen to their children through being exposed to the small amount of quite downplayed Christian worship in state schools? They aren't going to grow up to be nuns or religious extremists!

VeritableSmorgasbord Tue 23-Oct-12 15:00:37

I get annoyed by it. I accept I can't single-handedly change the system and I accept that most people don't really care and some actively welcome it.

I'm annoyed because it's telling lies to children. I don't think there needs to be any more to it than that!

GoSakuramachi Tue 23-Oct-12 15:01:21

It's not compulsory though, since you can insist your children not take part.

VeritableSmorgasbord Tue 23-Oct-12 15:05:59

I understand that, but I don't understand why it's ok to tell the lies in the first place.

(Oh, go on then, I do understand about the ownership of school land and how the govt could not afford to buy schools from the churches etc etc etc but the whole thing is so...odd, still.)

JoanBias Tue 23-Oct-12 15:08:38

There's a thread about it on here pretty much daily, so it must be a mumsnet thing.

PandaNot Tue 23-Oct-12 15:10:43

Veritable your lies are another man's truth - just a thought (from another atheist!). I was told these 'lies' as a child too but my education won out in the end. Some others will believe what they are told but that happens whatever goes on in school.

VeritableSmorgasbord Tue 23-Oct-12 15:14:28

Yes obviously PandaNOt or else no debate grin
But while people do debate, they are at least 'questionable statements of unproveable veracity' hence no room for them as fact.

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