Government says no to secular assemblies

A daily act of collective worship must not be replaced by non-religious assemblies, a UK Government minister has confirmed.

Baroness Berridge, who is Minister for the School System, made the Government’s position clear in response to a letter sent by the National Secular Society (NSS).

Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, state-funded schools in England and Wales must conduct acts of collective worship “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”.

Not permitted

According to the NSS, Berridge said it was “not permissible for a school to apply simply to replace Christian or other religious collective worship with a non-religious assembly”.

She added that schools found to be failing to fulfil their duty to provide worship would be dealt with “on a case by case basis”.

Earlier this year, the secularist group wrote to the UK Government asking that the law requiring schools have a daily act of collective worship be repealed.

Clear position

In March, Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb said: “Every maintained school, academy and free school is required to ensure that collective worship takes place each day.

“If the Department is informed that a school may be in breach of this requirement, it will be investigated.

“Where needed, the Department will remind schools of their duty on this matter and advise on how this can be met.”

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