The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) on Collective Worship has produced a major new report covering Collective Worship (Eng, NI & Wales) and Religious Observance (Scotland).


The majority of schools in the UK are required by law to organise acts of collective worship (England, Northern Ireland, Wales) or religious observance (Scotland) for their pupils. The majority of collective worship acts during any school term must be of a ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ and should be concerned with ‘reverence or veneration paid to a divine being or power’.

About the AHRC on Collective Worship

The Network is composed of academics from a range of disciplines including educationalists, lawyers, philosophers and sociologists, drawn from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Through a series of events over a 24 month period (Jan 2014 – Dec 2015) the Network will evaluate the law and policy on collective worship in UK schools.

Their website provides details about these events (2 Network seminars, 1 public conference) and their outputs. It also aims to act as a comprehensive resource point on all matters relating to collective worship: legislation; reports; articles and current developments, as well as providing links to organisations with an interest in this topical and often controversial issue.

Report on Collective Worship and Religious Observance

The report was launched at a public conference at the University of Leicester on 13th November 2015. HSS was represented at the conference and give a presentation outlining the organisation’s response to the conference (full text of the report and the HSS response can be found below).

In addition to the presentation of the Network’s findings, the conference – which was chaired by Lord Sutherland of Houndwood – also featured presentations from a number of influential figures from the UK and overseas. These included: the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Professor Heiner Bielefeldt; the sociologist of religion, Professor Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University); the Professor of Theology and Education, Mary Elizabeth Moore (Boston University); and the Professor of Education, Geir Skeie (Stockholm University).

Collective Worship and Religious Observance: An Evaluation of Law and Policy in the UK (pdf)

HSS Response to Collective Worship and Religious Observance in Schools Nov 2015 (pptx)