Churches have called for classes about religious worship to be added to teacher-training courses to stop schools flouting the law on assemblies.
In a letter to Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, leaders of the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches said this week they were concerned about the number of schools failing to have Christian worship every day. They urged the Government to introduce training for new teachers and would-be heads about the importance of collective worship, and called on better enforcement of the law.
Ofsted said that out of 1,838 primaries inspected last year, more than 88 per cent complied with the law. However, in secondary schools, only 17 per cent had a daily Christian assembly.
The letter said: "A clear statement of the implication of the law for schools, backed up with other resources, may resolve some of the issues leading to dissatisfaction with the legislation."
However, the move was criticised by John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, who said: "This is an outdated law. We have moved on from the days when all schools started with a hymn, a prayer and a bollocking."
Under the 1944 Education Act, schools are compelled to hold a daily act of "broadly Christian" collective worship.
The National school, a CofE secondary in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, is among the few comprehensives conforming to the law. David Shannon, the head, said assemblies had a particular Christian theme and included issues like world peace and the importance of families. "As well as the sense of being together, it means we can start the day highlighting something which focuses pupils' minds," he said.