3. Religious education and collective worship
43. In England and Wales, syllabuses on religious education are prepared separately for each local authority. The Special Rapporteur was informed that - following a 1994 circular by the Department for Education and Skills - only a few “representatives of belief systems such as humanism, which do not amount to a religion or religious denomination”, were included on relevant committees. Furthermore, while the non-statutory National Framework for Religious Education also includes “a secular world view, where appropriate” in the areas of study, this seems to be a concession rather than the result of a legal requirement. At the same time,legislation requires religious education to “reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain”.
44. Most “maintained” schools in England and Wales must provide a daily act of collective worship. According to section 386 of the Education Act 1996, collective worship in county schools and certain grant-maintained schools “shall be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”. Children may be exempted upon request of their parents and since September 2007 pupils in the sixth form also have this right of excusal. Sometimes, however, the daily act of collective worship is hard to miss when important notices are made in assemblies held for the purpose.