Neither image is accurate. Britain is an unchurched society but far from secular; it is also extraordinarily diverse. Most of rural Britain and quite a number of her smaller cities remain relatively untouched by the arrival of substantial other faith communities in the post-war period. A few larger cities, in contrast, host a wide range of religious minorities.
How does the school assembly fit into such diversity? A successful policy must be realistic, modest and flexible. It should be based on examples of good practice which can be found - indeed they abound if you care to look for them - in every type of context and depend, for the most part, on key individuals. Such individuals may, but need not be full-time members of a school's staff. Good practice should, moreover, be sought in this country, not elsewhere. The grass on the other side of the fence is not greener: the French have as much difficulty keeping religion out of their schools as we do keeping it in.
Worship and religious education are separate activities; that is true. But children learn by doing. The challenge is to ensure that they do it well
Dr Grace Davie Department of Sociology University of ExeterReuse content