ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

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Campaign grows to get rid of collective worship.

Campaign grows to get rid of collective worship.

Back in the early 1990s, a lone Pakistani boy appeared in my otherwise entirely white primary school class. If that wasn’t isolating enough for him, each week, as we went into the assembly hall for hymn practice, he would be quietly ushered away. An hour later, we were reunited – the rest of us with heightened voices, him with a box of freshly sharpened pencils, which he had laboured at while we were gone. Every week, for an hour a week, over four school years. That’s 156 hours of sharpening pencils on his own. Just for being Muslim, in a school that was supposed to cater for everyone.

This bonkers situation occurred because of a rule passed in 1944 as part of the settlement that brought religious schools under the state’s jurisdiction. Every English school is legally required to have its children take part in “collective daily worship” every day. Even if the school is secular, even if the school is packed to the rafters with atheists.

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