Monday, 3 July 2017

End collective worship in Welsh schools

After yesterdays blog  on the religious  sectarianism of Irish (and to some extent  Scottish) politics the issue of the role of religion in Wales has been raised by two School Children.

Despite the fact that until the devolution  Act the only pieces of unique  Welsh Legislation were  of 1881 (which was repealed on a UK wide Act in 2003 and the Church  Disestablishment Act , which took effect  in 1920.
Both reflected  the Non- Conformist nature of Wales ,
But is it now not time to accept that Wales is a largely secular Nation in which religion does not have the role it used to have.
It is still a legal requirement for schools to hold collective acts of worship.
But the Petitions Committee wrote to Ms Williams asking her to consider if it was compatible with human rights law.
The committee took the decision on Tuesday after receiving a petition from Cardiff schoolgirls Rhiannon Shipton and Lily McAllister-Sutton, who had collected 1,333 signatures.
The petition called on the assembly to urge the Welsh Government to pass a law that removes the obligation on schools to hold acts of religious worship​.
The girls, who say they do not believe in God, said it was time their school - Glantaf - and others in Wales, adopted modern attitudes.
The committee also received another petition, launched in response, to keep the current guidelines for religious assemblies.

This petition, submitted by Iraj Irfan, was signed by 2,231 people.

A Church in Wales spokeswoman said:
 "The law that requires a daily act of worship in schools is not a mandate to compel pupils to recite the Lord's Prayer, and be so inspired that they turn up at church the following Sunday.
"Rather, it is an invitation to experience what faith and commitment means, in a broadly Christian way, whilst understanding and appreciating other faith perspectives."
..... "Often young people are put off collective worship in schools because it is not done particularly well.
"Collective worship should be a richly rewarding spiritual experience that is creative, interactive and informative."
When I was in School  many years ago I had already  ceased to believe in God  by the age of eleven  and yet had  to take part i the School Assembly .

Catholics  held their own service  and would troop in half way through for the Headmasters announcement m which sometimes  called on my form to remain behind,

Today many Schools have a number of Faiths in both Staff and Pupil makeup and it is ridiculous  to pretend that only one Religion is  dominant  let alone that based on the disestablished Church in Wales.

It may be that the nature of the School Assembly may be more collective nature , but it does not take in to account Nonbelievers 
Ysgol Glantaf's headmaster Alun Davies has said he respects the fact two of his pupils have expressed their opinion and that the school encourages this.
He said while the emphasis was on Christianity, there are times when the school holds assemblies when pupils come together to discuss other themes and moral issues.
But Wales Humanists have described the practise as "archaic".
Coordinator Kathy Riddick said:
 "Forcing children to worship a god they may or may not believe in is obviously unacceptable and represents an affront to young people's freedom of religion or belief."It shouldn't take two school pupils to convince the Welsh Government of this, but nevertheless we hope Kirsty Williams will now give this the attention it deserves and remove this archaic and discriminatory requirement as soon as possible."
I concur  Religion should be a matter of choice rather than compulsion, its place in schools should be part of an explanation of Faith and what they are as part of a spectrum  of tier History, Philosophy and social position.

1 comment:

  1. when I was in school Catholics and Jews were permitted to leave the assembly but Atheists and Agnostics had to remain and take part, including hymn singing and praying. I refused and was at times punished. This is entirely wrong. By all means have school assemblies but make them non religious