By law every single state school in Scotland is a faith school.

About 82% are non-denominational and 18% denominational (Catholic, Episcopalian or Jewish). This is despite the majority of the population (59%) identifying as non-religious, with this rising to 69% of those aged between 18 and 24.

Non-religious schools, where pupils from all faiths and none can learn about different religions but do not take part in acts of worship, are not allowed under the current law. Non-religious schools are effectively banned.

We think that is wrong and are calling for an end to the ban.  60% of people in Scotland agree.

Sign our petition asking  Education Secretary, John Swinney, to give parents and teachers a new option where children of all faiths and none can learn beside one another. A school where there would be no acts of worship and where children will be taught about religion and moral philosophy but instructed in none. Back our call for new non-religious Community Schools.


non-denominational ≠ non-religious

Many parents do not realise that their local non-denominational school is required by law to provide religious observance that reflects Scotland’s christian heritage. In recent years there has been some progress towards opening up schools to speakers and chaplains from other faiths and none, but many will still host end of term services and prize givings in the local church.

the stigma of opting out

Only about 12% of people in Scotland attend church weekly and 60% say that they haven’t been to church in the last year except for weddings or funerals. Despite this, few parents choose to opt their child out of religious observance even though they do not believe in the church’s teachings.

Research shows that 40% of parents believe that withdrawing a child from religious observance can create a stigma. Many parents report that they are made to feel a nuisance if they are the only one to opt out. Parents are told to keep their child at home when the rest of the school are attending church or they can find their child alone in the school office, colouring in with no meaningful alternative. Faced with this choice many simply go along with church attendance even when this is not in line with their views.

5 ways you can help