Schools: Collective Worship

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd March 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the number and proportion of (a) maintained primary schools, (b) maintained secondary schools, (c) academies, (d) free schools and (e) sixth form colleges in England which have not fulfilled the legal requirement to organise a daily act of collective worship in each academic year since 2010-11.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what research (a) his Department and (b) other public bodies have commissioned into the practices of schools in England in relation to acts of collective worship since 2010.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many individual schools have been reported to his Department for non-compliance with the statutory requirement for an Act of Collective Worship in each academic year since 2010-2011.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what his policy is for when his Department learns that a school is in breach of its statutory duties relating to acts of collective worship; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what powers he has to ensure schools comply with their statutory responsibilities.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

All state-funded schools must provide a daily act of collective worship for all registered pupils up to the age of 18. For maintained schools this requirement is enshrined within legislation. For academies the requirement forms part of their funding agreement.

The Department does not gather data on schools’ level of compliance with the requirement. Faith schools, however, are required to arrange a separate inspection of denominational religious education and collective worship, leading to published reports.

Since 2010, the Department has not commissioned any research into Collective Worship practices. In November 2015, the Arts and Humanities Research Council published ‘Collective Worship and Religious Observance in Schools: an evaluation of law and policy in the UK’. The report can be found at: http://collectiveschoolworship.com/ . This report references a survey of 500 parents conducted on behalf of the BBC in 2011 in which 64 per cent of respondents reported that their children did not attend school worship.

The Department is not aware of any formal complaints made to it about a school’s non-compliance with this requirement in the period since 2010-2011.

If an individual is concerned that a school is not meeting its duty to provide an act of collective worship, they should follow that school’s complaint procedure in the first instance. If the complaint is not resolved, then the issue can be escalated to the Department’s School Complaints Unit for maintained schools, or the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, free schools, university technical colleges or studio schools. Information about the complaint procedures for schools can be found at: www.gov.uk/complain-about-school.

The Secretary of State has a range of powers to ensure schools comply with their statutory obligations. The exact powers used will depend on the nature of the statutory duty in question and the potential impact of any failure to comply. The powers used could include a direction under 497 of the Education Act 1996, a performance and standards warning notice under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 and a referral to Ofsted for an inspection. Where academies are subject to the same statutory duties as maintained schools, the Secretary of State has powers to enforce compliance via the terms of the funding agreement.

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