Inclusive assemblies

7th July 2006 at 01:00
The Rev John Brown quotes approvingly my letter to the Education Secretary and says that "even the British Humanist Association" acknowledges that assemblies have a vital educational role ("Daily worship is still vital", TES, June 30).

Of course we do, but does he? If so, it is hard to see how he can really be supporting the continuation of a law that requires collective worship rather than legislating to have inclusive assemblies that would better serve their educational purpose.

Good inclusive assemblies do have a vital educational role - they can bring a school together in celebration of common values, and they can assist pupils in exploring questions of purpose, value and meaning together. These aims, however, are not best served by a law that requires acts of collective worship. A school may do many things collectively but, lacking a shared religion, it is incoherent to require that they worship together.

An amendment which would replace the current legal requirement for collective worship with a requirement to hold assemblies "to further the spiritual, moral, social and cultural education of pupils" in all non-faith schools will be discussed this month be the House of Lords - perhaps the mainstream churches will support it? Then we will have a framework for inclusive and educational school assemblies that everyone with an interest in the development of the whole child - Hindu, humanist, Christian or whatever - can support.

Andrew Copson

Education officer

British Humanist Association

1 Gower Street, London

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