Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Good God, Will the Role of Jesus Be Downplayed?: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Good God, Will the Role of Jesus Be Downplayed?: News

Article excerpt

Schools no longer need to focus on Him in collective worship.

Teachers no longer have to "accord special status to Jesus Christ" in the acts of collective worship they are obliged to conduct after the government last week withdrew key guidance on religious observance in schools.

All community schools are required to hold daily acts of worship that are "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character", according to current laws. But controversial guidance on how that should be interpreted - which gave prominence to Jesus Christ - can now be ignored by schools, it has emerged.

The move has raised concerns among some religious groups, including the Church of England, that the role of Jesus could be downplayed by schools.

But the decision was taken by the Department for Education after lobbying by other religious education groups, which feared that the guidance on collective worship was "outdated" and acted as a barrier to good practice.

The National Association of Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (Nasacre), which represents the bodies determining RE in schools locally and which campaigned for the change, said it was a "significant shift". New freedoms will allow schools to interpret the law on collective worship as they see fit and better respond to the needs of pupils of different faiths, it said.

"There was a feeling for many practising in schools that the guidance was restricting their flexibility to respond to the diversity of their pupils," said Bruce Gill, chair of Nasacre. "People felt shackled by this document."

Nasacre - along with the Association of Religious Education Inspectors, Advisers and Consultants (Areiac) - have published a paper telling members across the country that they can ignore the previous guidance, so-called Circular 1/94.

It says that schools need to make "an imaginative interpretation" of the rules governing collective worship, which no longer need to focus on Jesus. …

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