Worship in schools in decline say parents
Almost two thirds of parents (64% in England) say that their children don’t attend a daily act of collective worship at their schools, a BBC survey has revealed.
As children return to their lessons this week, the research, conducted by ComRes for BBC Local Radio’s Faith programmes, suggests maintained schools are ignoring their statutory duty to provide a daily act of worship.
Legislation requires schools to provide "broadly Christian worship", giving particular status to Jesus.
The survey also reveals that 60% of the general public are not in favour of enforcing the law which prescribes a daily act of worship in schools.
Those without children in the household (39%) feel more strongly than those with children (30%) that the requirement should be enforced.
Older members of the public are more likely to agree that this should be enforced than younger people. A majority (51%) of those aged 65 and older believe it should be enforced, compared to less than three in ten (29%) of 18-24 year olds.
More in depth analysis of the results will be discussed on BBC Local Radio stations across England today (Tuesday 6 September).
A special series looking more deeply into the issues arising from this research will also be broadcast from Sunday 11 September on religious affairs programmes across BBC Local Radio.
Head of BBC English Regions Programming, Craig Henderson said:
"The role of faith in our communities is one in which BBC Local Radio is well placed to foster discussion and debate. I have no doubt that our listeners will have strong views about the role of religion and secular teaching as a daily part of the English education system. We’ll be getting to the heart of what the survey results mean to the communities people live in by speaking to religious leaders, school head teachers and the wider public.”
ComRes Chairman Andrew Hawkins said:
“This poll tells a story of declining support for Christian worship in schools, evidenced in three ways. Firstly, relatively few parents say their children’s school complies with the law. Secondly, support for the current law is best described as lukewarm. Thirdly, the headline figures are driven by a striking age gradient showing younger parents as the most likely to say the law is not enforced and should not be, while older parents are more inclined to say the opposite. The key question for the future is whether younger people will become more supportive of collective worship as they age, or whether this marks a generational change and therefore further decline in support over the coming years.”
ComRes interviewed 1743 adults in England by telephone, between 15th and 24th July 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in England.
Out of this sample, 500 respondents are parents of children of school age.