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Collective worship in primary school. What is it exactly?

(123 Posts)
Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 22:53:27

I'm looking at primary schools for DS1 who will start september 2009.
I've specifically chosen non-faith schools but have found that two out of the three schools i've looked at mention 'collective worship' on their websites.

I am humanist/atheist and I don't have a problem with him learning about different religions but the term 'worship' is worrying me.

So what is it exactly?
Do all schools do it?

Hulababy Sat 28-Jun-08 22:58:51

Will mean different things at different schools. It may not actually mean there is a religious element, but it could do.

Best thing to do is ask the schools what happens.

christywhisty Sat 28-Jun-08 22:59:12

It's the law that schools have to have an act of collective worship, although you can ask to exclude your child from it.

Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 23:06:19

Does it involve prayers and hymns?
If so, how can that be law?

cory Sat 28-Jun-08 23:08:40

Different in different schools. Ask them.

ravenAK Sat 28-Jun-08 23:09:37

Also, for many (most?) schools these days it means:

Everyone troops in to strains of 'Search for the hero inside yourself'.
Head or suitable delegate waffles on for a bit about being nice to each other.
Brief video of children in developing country foraging on refuse dump.
Head/delegate explains that we are now collecting old mobile phones to help dump foraging children.
Football etc results.
Bollocking about not keying the staff cars.
If time, lame rendition of 'All Things Bright & Beautiful'.

As an atheist myself, it would worry me if it actually happened...wink

Hulababy's right though, probably best to check with individual school.

MegBusset Sat 28-Jun-08 23:10:31

Yes, all schools are legally obliged to provide a collective act of worship every day. Seems that it can differ a lot according to the school, though. However, you do have the right to withdraw your child from that part of the assembly.

Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 23:19:06

Crap. Something else for me to worry about.
I will call the schools.

So for the athiest parents - how do you react to your child singing 'all things bright and beautiful?'

harpomarx Sat 28-Jun-08 23:22:06

db, didn't you go to school here? And have 'assembly', and hymn singing and church services? Thought it was the norm.

I'm an atheist too and would rather religion was kept out of education. But until it is I think this kind of 'collective worship' is the best you're going to get. Much worse is the fact that faith schools are the only choice in some areas.

Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 23:29:18

Yes I did go to school here. And we did all those things but i thought that was because it was Scotland 30 years ago.
I am genuinely surprised to find it still going on.

It didn't do me any harm, so I don't think i would go so far as excluding him from assembly. I just thought I could chose a non-faith school and it wouldn't be an issue.

I'm new to this finding schools malarky and it's more difficult than i thought.
I've been to 3 schools which were all good, i'm now trying to compare them on various levels (not just religion) to see which one is best suited to DCs.

ravenAK Sat 28-Jun-08 23:30:32

Not had to deal with it yet, db - my experience is as a teacher.

'Evolution made them all' scans quite nicely, though. grin

FairyMum Sat 28-Jun-08 23:32:51

Collective worship at school was probably what turned me into an atheist. The more religious education, the more likely to be end up atheist surely?

Blu Sat 28-Jun-08 23:37:20

It is decreed in the National Curriculum that there be an act of collecive worship, but it certainly doesn't happen in DS;s state community primary. Not at all, ever, as far as I can see.

Might have done when they had their Ofsted inspection, I suppose wink

lexilex Sun 29-Jun-08 00:00:57

the main thing you should think about is what you childs main education is, any type of religon in schools will be minimal compared to the main education, and for me i think the more thy are taught about all religons the better and the less narrow minded their generation will be in years to come, the problem i find with most people is that its all or nothing with only one religon (ie catholics wont really teach about others) and in turn people will have no understanding of other people faiths, and thats how serious problems start, for me the more children are taught about other peoples religons, cultures, way of life, the more broad minded and understanding to other people they will be in adult life,
oh and i am atheist, at the end of the day your child will mostly grow up with the beliefs they have grown up with in the home, but what they do at school will just give them that more knowledge which will be much more valuble in life as adults. hope this makes sense. xxxxx

RosaLuxembunting Sun 29-Jun-08 00:36:09

Raven, that is one of the funniest posts I have read on Mumsnet in a long time.
And all too true.

katebee Sun 29-Jun-08 07:06:01

I don't know what they are referring to by collective worship but I find it depressing how many people on Mumsnet are against their children participating in school assemblies.

I have such happy memories of singing all things bright and beautiful and other hymns in primary school assembly. I think it is nice for the whole school primary or secondary to get together in the morning..and sing a few hymns and say a few prayers..which is basically encouraging children to think of others.

Whether or not one believes in God many of the biblical stories encourage people to look out for each other such as the Good Samaritan.

As we are in a Christian country I really feel all schools should have a traditional assembly with a couple of hymns, and prayers plus the school announcements etc. It is also important for children to be taught about other religions and atheism whilst at school so that they are fully informed and can make their own minds up when they are older over what religious path to follow.

stillwaiting Sun 29-Jun-08 08:37:21

"catholics wont really teach about others"

Catholic schools make a huge effort to teach about alll faiths in my experiance of going to one and of being a parent. Probably wasn't the case 40 years ago but certainly is now. I learnt about Islam, Hinduism, Buddism, Judaism in quite a lot of detail in my Catholic secondry and my dcs primary covers all of these (esp Islam). The secondry my dcs will go covers all these, other christian faiths and some more obscure faiths such as Zoroastrianism.

Dragonbutter I suggest you actually go and attend a few assemblies to get the feel of them. A lot will depend on the personal faith and beliefs of the head and I imagine you no more want your dcs being told that God wants them for a sunbeam than you want someone telling them that science and religion are incompatable and all religious people are thickos who don't believe in evolution and should be sneered at.

Personally I think the worship element should be droped from assemblies in no faith schools.

mrz Sun 29-Jun-08 09:21:39

All schools by law have to have a daily act of "collective worship" you will find in most schools this involves all the children coming together in the hall to listen to a story (usually with a social/moral message not a particularly religious one) and singing a song (not a hymn).

cory Sun 29-Jun-08 09:25:28

IME it can be things like practising Christmas carols for the end of term concert, the vicar coming in to give a talk about bullying, the head praising children who have been particularly nice or achieved.

Dragonbutter Sun 29-Jun-08 10:10:02

Thanks to everyone for posting.

Lexilex, yes, you're right. perspective on this is good. It is a small part of schooling.

Katebee, I agree that it would be sad to exclude my children from assembly. I remember assembly as being quite exciting. Something hilarious always happened. And i also think it's a lovely way for whole school to do something collectively, especially singing.
But... i just wish it didn't have to include a religious element.
Social/moral/ethical element? absolutely.
Worshipping? no

Stillwaiting, that's a good idea. Sitting in on an assembly might be just what i need. I might not tell them what my concerns are exactly so they don't change anything.

hercules1 Sun 29-Jun-08 10:21:02

I have to do the collective worship bit and I'm an atheist. I never bring god into it in any shape or form. I just make it a thinking moment on different issues.

Blu Sun 29-Jun-08 13:27:21

Actually i wish there was more colective singing as part of DS's assemblies. Mostly they seem to watch each other's class presentations...and sing along to 'the World's greatest' and other cheesy uplifting soft pop songs!

Spidermama Sun 29-Jun-08 13:32:04

My school gloats with pride at the complete lack of any spiritual element in their assmeblies. I think it's sad. They're hardly going to be brainwashed by a little collective meditation or concious singing. I'm sure whatever you give them at home is hundreds of times more effective.

notlongnow Sun 29-Jun-08 22:49:43

I think that this is a problem faced by lots of us who send our kids to non-religious schools and then are faced with our children then participating in actual acts of Christian worship in assembly. I think that my son finds it quite confusing trying to understand why his parents tell him that they believe that God doesn't exist and then in school (a place where we otherwise expect him to 'believe' everything that they tell him) he is placed in a situation where he is effectively expected to pray to God (told to bow head, put hands together etc...). I would have sent him to a religious school if I had wanted him to pray to God! I have no problem with education 'about' religion (|I think that is an important part of the curriculum). There is a big difference between that and educating children to 'be' religious.

I also think that the wording of the 1988 education act is possibly out of date i.e. regarding the way it is phrased to say that the 'collective act of worship' should be "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character". We are all much more familiar with the idea of living in a multicultural society than we were twenty years ago. It just seems very limited to be 1) to not recognise that some children are not from religious families and 2) that even if they are they might not be Christian.

policywonk Sun 29-Jun-08 22:53:42

DS1 is in Reception at a community school, and in his case it seems to come down to a daily prayer that the class recite before being dismissed. I'm guessing that his class teacher is not a big believer, as her sarcastic, droning delivery of said 'prayer' has to be heard to be believed. 'Tis one of the reasons I like her.

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