Attempts by a Christian school to be more inclusive of non-Christians do not go nearly far enough

April 22, 2013

Responding to the news that Slough and Eton Church of England Business and Enterprise College has dropped the singing of hymns and includes references to non-Christian religious texts in its assemblies due to the large number of its pupils from non-Christian backgrounds, Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE said, ‘The school’s modified approach is to be welcomed, but it is still not doing nearly enough to make its assemblies genuinely inclusive and appropriate in multi-belief Britain. Assemblies should be educational, not confessional, both so as to establish common values and so as not to divide pupils.

‘Schools in England and Wales are held back by laws that require they provide a daily act of collective worship of a wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, unless a school is a non-Christian faith school, when they are required to provide assemblies that are distinctive of their faith. However, while these requirements must be changed, schools should not only creatively use the current flexibility under the law to provide a programme of assemblies that are made a bit more appropriate to their student body, like Slough and Eton College, but they should provide assemblies that are accessible for all and draw upon and forge shared values, investigating ethical and moral values from a variety of sources, including religious and philosophical.

‘School’s conduct should be exemplary, and this kind of approach would be much more appropriate and respectful in a society such as ours with increasingly religious plurality and a growth in the non-religious. Slough and Eton College’s approach is just a small step, and they and many other schools still have a long way to go.’



This story first appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Times (£).

The latest guidance on Collective Worship for schools produced by NASACRE and AREIAC can be found at

A July 2010 YouGov poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition found that 43% of GB adults agreed (to 30% against) that the laws that require schools to provide daily collective worship, including in faith schools, should be replaced by a requirement that they hold assemblies which consider spiritual, moral and ethical issues shared by different religions and by those who are not religious:

‘Worship in School Study’ for the BBC by ComRes in July 2011 found only 60% of adults (to 36%) thought the Collective Worship laws should be enforced:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Accord depends on your support

Please give.

Sign up

find us on Facebook

News history