Is it law for schools to begin the school day with an assembly of a predominantly Christian character and if so, what steps are taken, including guidelines to schools and to Ofsted, to ensure that the law is complied with?
Also have any guidelines or instructions been issued which would have the effect of reducing compliance with the law?
Since the 1944 Education Act, re-enacted in all subsequent Education Acts, there has been a statutory requirement that all maintained schools must provide a daily act of collective worship for all registered pupils, unless they have been withdrawn by their parents. The Education Act 1988 removed the requirement for this to take place at the start of the school day. Collective Worship can now take place any time of the school day.
Collective Worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. However, if this is inappropriate for some or all pupils, the head teacher can apply to the Local Education Authority for a determination to have this requirement lifted.
All schools and LEAs have been issued with copies of the DfES guidance circular 1/94 Religious Education and Collective Worship, which sets out the statutory requirements for religious education in schools. This guidance was issued in 1994, and no further guidance has been issued.
It is part of the current Ofsted framework to report on schools compliance with the statutory requirements around the curriculum. Full details, including action taken where schools are not compliant, are available from Ofsted who can be contacted at: Alexandra House, 33 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6SE.