Providing free access to high quality, inclusive assemblies

FAQs

 

Website questions

 

I want to add an assembly to your website. Is this possible?

We welcome new inclusive assemblies. If you wish to add an assembly, contact info@assembliesforall.org.uk.

 

I would like to suggest a new day for the calendar. Is this possible?

We wish to include as many established celebrations and important days as possible. If you have a suggestion, please contact info@assembliesforall.org.uk and, if appropriate, we will do our best to add it to the calendar.

 

We’re an organisation and we’ve just update our own assemblies. How can I make sure you are linking to our latest resources?

Contact us on info@assembliesforall.org.uk with information about, and links to, your new assemblies, and we’ll update our links. If any of your older assemblies are no longer available or are out of date, please let us know.

 

Why isn’t there an assembly for every day of the year?

Some days of the year do not currently have an event tied to that date. In other cases, there may be an event, but no assemblies linked to that event. In that case, we have still noted the event as we hope it may prompt ideas for assemblies. If we are missing any important events, you can help by making suggestions where there are gaps.

 

Why are some events on the calendar in different colours?

If there are any assemblies relevant to that particular event, then the event will be highlighted green. As we grow, we hope to tie relevant assemblies to as many events as possible.

 

Are your assemblies religious?

The vast majority of assemblies featured by Assemblies for All are provided by secular organisations and our mission is to provide inclusive assemblies that do not promote one religion to the detriment of others or those of no religion. Some assemblies on this website focus on religious holidays or are made by religious organisations and therefore do contain religious themes, but they are in our view nevertheless suitable for pupils of all beliefs.

 

Who can I contact if I have questions not answered in the FAQs?

See the contact page for more details.

 

Humanism questions

 

What is humanism?

Humanism is a positive, non-religious approach to life shared by millions of people in the UK. Humanists rely on evidence and reason to discover truths about the universe, and put human welfare and happiness at the centre of their ethics. Humanists see no persuasive evidence for an afterlife or any discernible purpose to the universe, but believe human beings can act to make their own lives meaningful, find happiness in the one life they know they have, and support others to do the same. For more information about humanism visit Understanding Humanism, where you will also find advice on further reading.

 

What do humanists think about ‘……’?

You can find a humanist perspective on a wide range of themes on Understanding Humanism, including many of the topics studied in the Religious Studies GCSE exam specifications.

 

Where can I learn more about humanism?

Humanists UK has a wealth of further information about humanism on its website. We’ve also recommended some introductory books.

 

How do I request someone to visit my school to talk about humanism and answer students’ questions?

You can find information about booking free, trained school speakers on Understanding Humanism.

 

Who else supports the work of humanists?

Where religious groups share our aims, we work with them to achieve our common goals. We successfully co-founded the Accord Coalition, for example, where we work alongside religious groups and individuals (as well as various human rights organisations and teachers’ unions) on an ongoing basis, in favour of inclusive and non-discriminatory schools.

 

Collective Worship questions

 

Assemblies at my/my child’s school are being used for religious collective worship – is this legal?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the law specifies that all state funded schools must provide a daily act of collective worship. If the school is legally designated as a faith school (of any kind), then this worship must be held in accordance with its religious character. If the school is not legally designated as a faith school, then the law requires that the daily worship is ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character.’ This means that a majority of assemblies have to have a broadly Christian theme.

However, many state schools with no religious character ignore the law entirely, which is unenforced and not inspected by Ofsted. And many that comply with it have chosen to apply to their local authority or the Secretary of State for Education (see note) for a ‘determination’ to change the character of their worship for some or all of their pupils from Christian to something else. This must still be worship-based and therefore cannot be non-religious, but can be changed to spiritual, or multi-faith.

In Scotland, there are no legal requirements for schools to hold daily acts of collective worship. The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 sets out that in all state-funded schools, the practice of ‘religious observance’ should occur at least six times a year, unless a resolution to discontinue this has been passed by the local education authority and approved by the electors in that local authority area.

As for private schools, they are not required to hold any act of collective worship, but can choose to do so and can choose the nature of this worship as they wish.

Note: local authority-maintained schools have to apply to their local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education; academies and free schools apply to the Secretary of State.

 

Can I opt myself/my child out of attending collective worship?

In state-funded schools in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, parents do have the right to opt their children out of collective worship – and in England and Wales, this right transfers from parent to pupil once the pupil reaches the sixth form. Note that pupils can also be partly opted out, so it should in theory be possible to remove a pupil from worship, while ensuring they do not miss any assemblies that are conducted in an inclusive way, or indeed the parts of an assembly that are not spent worshipping. Pupils who are not yet in sixth form cannot opt themselves out of worship as this right rests with their parents.

In Scotland, parents have a statutory right to remove their children from participating in religious observance, as long as their children attend a non-denominational school. However, it is more difficult for a parent to remove their child from religious observance if they attend a denominational school, as it is implied that they have decided to opt in to the school’s religious character. In Scotland, children or young people do not have the right to withdraw themselves from religious observance.

Across the whole of the UK, neither pupils nor parents have a legal right to opt out of worship in private schools as it is argued that parents have voluntarily chosen to send their children to the school instead of a state school: many private schools will nevertheless accommodate such wishes.

 

What if my school doesn’t let me opt out myself/my child from RE or collective worship?

If the school is a state school, this is unlawful. Section 55(2) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 plainly states:

‘(1) If the parent of a pupil at a community, foundation, or voluntary school requests that he may be wholly or partly excused from receiving religious education given at the school in accordance with the school’s basic curriculum, the pupil shall be so excused until the request is withdrawn.

(1A) If the parent of any pupil at a community, foundation, or voluntary school other than a sixth-form pupil requests that he may be wholly or partly excused from attendance at religious worship at the school, the pupil shall be so excused until the request is withdrawn.

(1B) If a sixth-form pupil requests that he may be wholly or partly excused from attendance at religious worship at a community, foundation, or voluntary school, the pupil shall be so excused.’

This rule also applies to Academies and Free Schools through their funding agreements.

To get the school to face up to its legal obligations, first you should pursue its internal complaints procedure. Beyond that, the next step is to complain to either the local authority (if the school is a maintained school – i.e. not an academy or free school), or the Department for Education (if the school is an academy or free school). As to the former, each local authority will have its own complaints procedures, but the DfE’s guidance on complaining is on its website. You can also let us know about your issue.

If the school is a private school, then UK law does not require opt-outs to be offered.

 

What if the school doesn’t allow me to opt out my child without sending them home?

That would be unlawful. Section 71(3) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 states that pupils can be withdrawn from a state school if a parent has made arrangements for them to have worship/religious education elsewhere, and therefore implicitly a pupil must not otherwise be withdrawn from school – as the duty of care still rests with the school. Helpfully, this is made explicit in the current Government guidance on the matter (Circular 1/94 in England and Circular 10/94 in Wales), which states that ‘A school continues to be responsible for the supervision of any child withdrawn by its parent from collective worship.’ (see in paragraph 84 in each circular).

Similarly in Scotland, wherever a pupil is withdrawn from religious observance schools should make suitable arrangements for the pupil to participate in a worthwhile alternative activity. In no circumstances should a pupil be disadvantaged as a result of withdrawing from religious observance.