'Social cohesion calls for mandatory school worship to be scrapped'
Paul Kaufman Chair East London Humanists
- Credit: PA
When it comes to religion and belief, our education system is largely outdated and does a disservice to many children.
In 2018 just one in five marriages were religious, according to the Office for National Statistics, which published the figures in August. This comes after a British Social Attitudes survey found more than half of the public said they do not belong to any religion.
Hopefully readers of this column share the desire that children, whether religious or not, leave school with a well-developed moral compass.
But I believe traditional RE studies mainly fails to engage the majority of children for whom religious belief is irrelevant and meaningless.
Teaching about humanism, still all too rare, would equip children with a positive ethical approach which doesn't require faith, along with critical thinking skills.
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In this country, worship is imposed on all state schools.
In answer to a Parliamentary question, education minister Nick Gibb said non-compliant schools will be “investigated” and “reminded of their duty on this matter”.
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Surely fairness and social cohesion in modern Britain calls for school assemblies and schools which are inclusive and respectful of all faiths and none.
There are of course teachers and schools who strive for a more inclusive curriculum.
However, the sea change necessary to address today’s landscape demands fresh government thinking across the board.