REV JANINA AINSWORTH, Chief education officer, Church of England
The CoE strongly supports the requirement for collective worship. There is plenty of flexibility in the provision to enable all pupils to benefit without compromising their faith or lack of it.
Collective worship makes a major contribution to pupils’ personal development. Through their involvement in planning and delivering worship, engaging with external speakers and discussion as a whole-school community, understanding of spiritual and moral issues can be extended and enriched.
The unique contribution of worship is to involve pupils in a shared experience of reflection and silence, singing and story framed with reference to Christianity and a variety of other religious traditions.
It is part of the religious education of every child, whatever their family tradition, to think about God and other religious ideas. There is no expectation of commitment and the exposure to the range of religious traditions encourages community cohesion.
It is a parent’s right to withdraw their child from worship, and the very few who take up that right demonstrates that schools have found exciting and creative ways of using collective worship to further children’s spiritual and moral development.
ANDREW COPSON, Chief executive, British Humanist Association
Good, inclusive school assemblies of a moral and reflective nature, which can bring the school community together to celebrate shared values, news and achievements are a proven success in maintaining a supportive and cohesive school community.
Many schools do this well and their pupils and staff benefit greatly from it. They are all breaking the law. The law requires daily acts of collective worship which should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character.
The continued existence of this prescriptive, coercive, educationally bankrupt and religiously chauvinist law is an affront not only to the rights of children to freedom of conscience but to the whole concept of a plural and democratic society.
It is the outdated product of a more homogenous society of six decades ago, less respectful of dissent and conscience that a liberal society of the 21st century, where all people – not just Christians – should be free to express and live by their beliefs.
All replies: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6065655
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Compulsory collective worship: Times Educational Supplement asks leading figures for their views,