Liberate children by ending assemblies at all schools, peers told


hildren at all schools should be “spared” and “liberated” from having to attend assemblies, peers have heard.

Lord Desai, who described himself as “both a humanist and not a Satanist but certainly not a Godist”, said a proposal to repeal the requirement for daily acts of collective worship in non-faith schools was “too mild”.

The non-affiliated peer also suggested pupils should be allowed the option of an extra hour in bed if their school could not find anything else for them to do in the time allocated for an assembly.

The Education (Assemblies) Bill, proposed by Liberal Democrat Baroness Burt of Solihull would apply to state-funded schools without a religious character in England and Wales.

It would remove the compulsory requirement for collective worship at these schools and allows it to be replaced with “inclusive” assemblies, and would also enable pupils and teachers to organise voluntary acts of collective worship.

The Bill would not apply to faith schools.

The proposed legislation won support from some peers, including retired Church of England bishop Lord Harries of Pentregarth, but was opposed by others and the Government.

Lord Desai, speaking during the second reading debate, said: “What harm have Christians, Buddhists and Muslims done to not be able to escape assemblies every day or whenever it is?

“I think it’s a very strange idea that moral and various spiritual education can only be done by getting people together and haranguing them.

“The whole school education should be doing that all the time and you don’t need a special hour to get the students together.”

Lord Desai added: “All children of all religions should be spared assemblies and if you can’t find anything to do in that hour, start school late – they can sleep more, it’d be better for them than having assemblies.”

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