There is an interesting survey by BBC Wales reported today about “acts of collective worship”(ACW) in schools in Wales, which also includes information about those in England. Well over half of all secondary (for over 11 year olds) break the law. Unlike countries with division of church and state, the 1944 Education Act requires every maintained school to have and ACW every day.

“Maintained” schools include all those which get state funding. As well as “state” schools these also included those run by Jews, the Catholic Church and the Church of England and Church in Wales. There are also now a few “church” schools run by other faiths like Muslims who, like the Jews, are allowed to pray in their own manner. For all practical purposes the definition of “maintained” only exludes the “Public” (ie private fee-paying) schools.

There is provision for parents to have their children opt-out of the ACW but this is very rarely taken up. In theory therefore every child in England and Wales should pray with their schoolmate every day. The survey shows that this is usually not the case and certainly there are even schools run by the CofE that do not comply.

Apart from this Christmas “human interest” piece cobbled together by a Cardiff newroom that had too little actual news to report and the occasional fervent parent kicking up a fuss, this is very much a non-issue. Personally I am all for it as the imposed ACW invariably means churches empty apart from for weddings, funerals and Christmas but a majority population that seems to have vaguely assimulated most of the ethical teaching, considers themselves Christian but fail to actually attend the institutions.  

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