Call for worship ‘opt out’ for schools

Scott Moore made the presentation before Derry City & Strabane District Council.
Scott Moore made the presentation before Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Derry City & Strabane District Council have been called upon to back calls for schools to be given the choice to ‘opt out’ of collective worship.

In a presentation entitled ‘Letting Schools Choose’, 17-year-old student Scott Moore, speaking on behalf of a delegation, said that currently schools were not given the choice to opt out of collective worship.

Addressing the Council’s Health & Community Committee, he said that under the Education and Libraries Order almost all schools must hold collective worship and the school’s board of governors has no choice over this.

Scott said he and others were advocating for a change in law to give schools a choice,

“A school where the majority of pupils, staff and parents do not want collective worship should not be made to by the law,” he argued.

The committee was told that inclusiveness was not just about accommodating Protestants and Catholics, but also about making room for those of minority faiths and those from a no faith background.

A petition with over 1,000 signatures has already been drawn up calling for the law to be changed, with backing from, among others, Northern Ireland Humanists, Atheist Ireland and the National Secular Society, as well as several individual councillors.

DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock said that while they might not necessarily agree with his views, committee members were always willing to listen to different viewpoints, while Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said he could not see any reason why schools should not be given a choice.

Mr Moore asked if some sort of motion could be passed supporting the campaign.

Chairman of the Committee, DUP Councillor Drew Thompson, said he was sure that the matter would be discussed at some stage in the future.