Collective Worship in Schools: An Evaluation of Law and Policy in the United Kingdom


Principal Investigator: Dr Alison Mawhnney Bangor University
Co-investigators: Professor Peter Cumper, University of Leicester
Duration: From 2014 to 2015

The majority of schools in the UK are required by law to organise acts of collective worship (England, Northern Ireland, Wales) or religious observance (Scotland) for their pupils. The majority of such acts during any school term must be of a ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ and should be concerned with ‘reverence or veneration paid to a divine being or power’.
Is there a place for ‘collective worship’ or ‘religious observance’ in schools? What is its purpose? What are the legitimate interests of the state in such matters? How should schools take account of the rights of children, parents and teachers when organising such acts? And to what extent do these acts contribute to the development of shared values and the encouragement of cohesive and inclusive school communities in an increasingly plural and multi-cultural society?
These are some of the topical questions that the Research Network on Collective Worship will seek to investigate. The Network is composed of academics from a range of disciplines drawn from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Through a series of events over a 24 month period the Network will evaluate the law and policy on collective worship in UK schools.