No change in worship law, says minister

3rd March 1995 at 00:00
The Government has reiterated its refusal to alter the law requiring daily acts of collective worship.

Responding to Church commissioner Michael Alison MP in the House of Commons, Minister of State for Education Eric Forth said: "The Government has no plans to change the legal requirements for collective worship which give schools considerable flexibility in their arrangements."

Mr Alison, the Conservative member for Selby, said that the overwhelming majority of the British population wishes to have daily collective worship and that fewer than 300 out of 25,000 schools have significant proportions of non-Christian pupils.

He attacked a survey by the National Association of Headteachers which found nearly 80 per cent of all schools unable to uphold the law. Mr Alison said the survey was "bogus" and unrepresentative.

He also rejected the notion of collective spirituality, currently promoted by figures ranging from the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, to the outspoken Professor John Hull at Birmingham University. "The suggestion that all religions are to be harmonised into 'collective spirituality' is nothing less than a call for the restoration of the full-blown, multi-faith mish mash that was so vigorously criticised when the 1988 Act was put on the Statute book,"said Mr Alison.

In response to the widespread non-observance of the law found in secondary schools by the Office for Standards in Education, Mr Forth said that parents should complain: "I urge all parents who are not satisfied with that important part of the provision in their child's school to take up the matter vigorously with the headteacher, parent-governors or other governors to ensure that opinions quoted by my right honourable friend are properly reflected."

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