Heads seek end to daily prayers

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The Independent Online
Headteachers yesterday challenged the Government to end schools' obligation to hold a daily religious assembly, writes Lucy Ward.

Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers conference called for the law requiring a daily act of mainly Christian collective worship to be revised in consultation with teachers, governors and religious groups. Forcing schools to hold morning prayers was a "hypocritical act" which could do more harm than good.

The demand, supported, with only one dissenting voice, reinforced long- standing opposition among heads and teachers to the legislation on worship in schools. Many schools quietly break the law on a daily basis, partly through reservations over the value of religious assemblies and partly through practical difficulties - particularly in secondary - schools in gathering all pupils together in a hall at once.

Simon Marsh, head of St Mary Magdalene School in Islington, north London, said worship was by definition "a voluntary act of homage, praise and love freely given to the God one serves".

He added: "I am convinced that to enforce a hypocritical act does more harm to faith than anything else."