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Leanne Wood leads opposition calls to end compulsory collective worship in Wales

The campaign to end collective worship in Wales in favour of more inclusive assemblies has received a boost with Leanne Wood AM leading opposition calls to end the discriminatory practice.

In a discussion in the Welsh Assembly petitions committee last week, the former leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood AM, vented her frustrations at the Government over its failure to act on collective worship.

Over two years ago, two Welsh schoolgirls tabled a petition to end compulsory worship in Welsh state schools saying that they shouldn’t be forced to partake in daily prayer at school assembly. The Minister for Education Kirsty Williams has been expected to announce reforms in response to the petition but is yet to do so.

Wales Humanists, along with Humanists UK, is also running a petition calling for compulsory collective worship to be replaced with inclusive assemblies.

In the discussion, Leanne Wood AM said: ‘Well, I’m not surprised that the petitioners are extremely frustrated by the lack of progress on this. It’s been hanging around for two years now, and it’s going to hang around for another two years by the sounds of it.’

She added: ‘I just can’t understand why, in 2019, with everything that we understand about the need to include people, you would insist on one particular form of religious assembly when there are plenty of other ways that you can do this. I’ve got a great amount of sympathy with the petitioners, and it sounds to me as if the Minister is trying to stall.’

Humanists UK recently announced it was backing English parents Lee and Lizanne Harris who are taking a legal challenge over their children’s school assemblies.

Wales Humanists coordinator Kathy Riddick said: ‘We welcome Leanne Wood speaking out to oppose compulsory collective worship in Welsh schools. Compulsory daily prayers in school assemblies is not an inclusive practice – what we need are inclusive assembles that welcome and involve all children no matter their background or beliefs. We urge the Minister to take heed of these calls and end this discriminatory practice.’

NOTES:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Read more about the collective worship court case being supported by Humanists UK.

Wales Humanists is part of Humanists UK. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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