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Collective Worship in Brent Schools

March 17, 2017

BrentOn 28 February, 2017 the Daily Telegraph carried the headline State schools could scrap Christian assemblies after London council changes rules and indicated that schools in Brent are being encouraged to scrap Christian-only worship in assemblies. Brent is thought to be the first council to be adopting this policy. It is one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the country, and figures in the 2011 census indicated that Brent’s population was: 41 per cent Christian, 18.6 per cent Muslim and 17.8 per cent Hindu.

But he policy in Brent is not new, is not the formal removal of that requirement, as has been claimed. It is already open to schools to apply for a determination to lift the requirement that collective worship be ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’.

In this case the council simply encourages schools to do that, to ensure that collective worship reflects children’s different backgrounds. It moves too quickly fdrom stating that parents have the right to withdraw their childen tom  the suggestion of determination. It does not show how broad, inclusive and flexible the law can be without resorting to a determination.

“It is important that there are positive relationships between parents and a dults in the school. A seamless transition between home and school is fundamental to learning within the school setting, and learning needs to build on what children already experience, know and do…….Effective collective worship in school can provide this connection between home  and school, between the values and beliefs a child experiences at home and those experienced at school.”  But shouldn’t school give them a ‘higher’ vision, beyond what they already experience?

 It wants to ‘ensure that there is a balance of material from different traditions through a term.’ – yes, a log should be kept but the policy ignores the law’s ‘mainly Christian’ requirement.

There is a good example of a stilling exercise but, other than that, the guidance lacks detail and supporting materials/exemplars.


‘Collective worship’ ……has no meaning outside of the school environment.

Children may like to create their own more child-friendly term for collectiveworship. Children in one school in Brent used the term ‘Pause’

Brent SACRE understands the term ‘collective’ to mean coming together. Therefore, it does not expect groups of children to separate for collective worship following particular faith traditions. At the same time, the SACRE understands that it is often not possible for a whole school to come together. It also believes that children can benefit particularly from collective worship in smaller groups such as their class or form group. It is for the school to decide the balance between coming together in larger or smaller groups.

The document is online here.

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