The nation’s primary schools are watering down Britain’s Christian identity for fear of offending other cultures, according to a leading education professor.
Prof Alan Smithers made his comments in light of a Sunday Telegraph survey, which showed that the Lord’s Prayer was no longer being taught in many of the nation’s primary schools.
He warned: “The country is losing its Christian identity. Many schools are not complying with the law relating to spiritual education and I think it is in urgent need of debate.”
Schools have a statutory requirement to provide a daily act of collective worship of a broadly Christian character, but 25 per cent of primary schools which responded to the survey admitted their pupils learned nothing at all about the best-known Christian prayer.
Many of the schools claimed it was because they had children from different religions and therefore did not think it was appropriate.
Jeff Lloyd, the head teacher of Robin Hood Primary School in Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London said his pupils received no instruction in the Lord’s Prayer because: “We are a multi-faith school and teach all religions.”
According to press reports the school’s most recent Ofsted report said that half of pupils at the school were of white British background.
Prof Smithers, the Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said schools were abandoning crucial elements of children’s heritage for fear of offending families of other faiths.
“It is a good thing to welcome people to the country because they inject vitality,” he said, “but we should not dissolve ourselves in the process.
“The Christian core of values is more than mere religion, it is the basis on which we have become who we are.”
Mr Smithers added: “The point of education is to pass from one generation to the next what is valuable. By learning the Lord’s Prayer, children become familiar with it. It is not indoctrination, it is giving them a basis of knowledge on which to make informed decisions.”
Revd Janina Ainsworth, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, said: “It is concerning that some children are not getting the opportunity to engage with the Lord’s Prayer that others are getting.
“A daily act of collective worship is a compulsory part of the school day and the prayer can form a platform for exploring other themes.
“Every child in every school should have the opportunity to engage with the Lord’s Prayer through religious education.”
The news that the Lord’s Prayer was being abandoned by many of the nation’s schools was revealed after 165 non faith-based primary schools from across England responded to a Freedom of Information request.