A NEW Forest school that tried to stop holding daily corporate worship because only a third of its families were Christians has been rejected by Hampshire County Council.
Poulner Infant School in Ringwood has asked the HCC Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) to consider exempting it from legal duty.
Documents submitted by Director Jo Conner said the religious makeup of the families meant it was not appropriate for corporate worship to “reflect wholly or primarily the broad traditions of Christian belief”.
They added: “This is especially true given the family backgrounds of students at our school – two-thirds of parents do not identify as Christians.
“We are seeing more and more parents exercising choice in seeking out our community school as an alternative to nearby faith-based schools.”
A report to SACRE from HCC Director of Children’s Services, Steve Crocker, confirmed that the students’ family background information was recorded at admission as 34% Christian.
But it still formed the largest religious group in the school, he said, and there had been no recorded withdrawals of students by parents from collective worship.
Government guidelines state that all continuing schools must provide religious education and daily communal worship to all enrolled students and promote their spiritual, moral and cultural development.
It also states that agreed religious education (RE) curricula for county schools and equivalent grant-aided schools should reflect the fact that national religious traditions are primarily Christian, while taking into account the teaching and practices of others. main religions.
An HCC spokesperson told A&T: “Students at affected schools are required to participate in a daily act of collective worship. Schools can apply for an exemption from the requirement that such worship must be “wholly or primarily of a broadly Christian character”.
“Following review of the report, Poulner Infant School’s request and applicable legislation, SACRE has made the decision to deny the waiver request.
“The commission reviewed the information provided by the school on the family history of the students registered at admission.
“It was noted that 34% of families identified as Christian, which is the largest religious group in the school.
“The committee also noted that the school has not recorded any parental request for the removal of children from corporate worship.”