THE Department for Education (DfE) confirmed this week that it
had not withdrawn Circular 1/94, which provides guidance to schools
on collective worship. The circular says that, in most schools,
special attention should be paid to the person and status of
The DfE statement was issued after two religious-education
organisations suggested that schools should ignore the
A statement from the association that represents RE advisers,
AREIAC, and the association of local authority RE watchdogs,
NASACRE, says that, in attempting to meet the legal requirement for
collective worship, many institutions experience difficulties that
stem from statements in the circular.
"For this reason NASACRE and AREIAC advise that schools should
not use Circular 1/94, but . . . should be guided by the legal
requirements set out in the 1988 Education Reform Act (ERA)."
The circular, which has been questioned since it was first
issued in 1994, attempted to clarify the 1988 Act, which states
that collective worship should be "broadly and mainly Christian" in
character, but allows schools with large numbers of minority-faith
pupils to opt out of its requirements.
AREIAC and NASACRE failed in an attempt last year to have the
circular withdrawn. Their statement says, however, that in
discussion with DfE officials, their representatives were told that
schools could choose whether or not to use the guidance.
This week, however, a DfE spokesman said: "DfE policy has not
changed at all. The law also has not changed and remains perfectly
clear: all schools must hold a daily act of collective worship
which must be broadly Christian. The only exception is for schools
which have chosen to follow another faith."
The author of the RE advisers' statement, Dilwyn Hunt, admitted
that AREIAC's 150 members were not unanimous in seeking the
withdrawal of the circular. A spokesman for the RE Council, of
which ARIEAC and NASACRE are members, said that it had "distanced"
itself from it.
A Church of England spokesman said: "This long-standing guidance
has always been effectively interpreted by both church and
community schools for pupils of all faiths and none." He "would
expect all schools to include" Jesus in their worship.