Children's Rights - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by the Children's Rights Alliance for England


  1.  CRAE seeks the full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in England. Our vision is of a society where the human rights of all children are recognised and realised.


Religious worship in schools

  2.  CRAE believes that all children who have sufficient understanding to make an informed decision should be able to opt in or opt out of collective religious worship in schools. This is in accordance with article 12 (the right to be involved in matters affecting them) and article 14 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the UNCRC. Children may wish to opt themselves in to collective worship following withdrawal either by themselves or their parents. Currently the law only allows for sixth form students to opt out of collective worship.

  3.  We believe that "sufficient understanding to make an informed decision" is a more effective wording than "sufficient maturity, intelligence and understanding" which is the current criteria recommended by the JCHR. We are concerned that the latter wording could be used to severely restrict the application of any new right. CRAE's suggested criteria reflect section 16 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, in relation to a child's decision not to have an independent visitor.

  4.  Belief in a religion (or none) is not conditional on a certain level of intelligence; rather it is a personal choice. We are concerned that the law might mean that young people who might be perceived as "less intelligent" by teachers or other authorities, for example children with learning difficulties and disabilities or special educational needs, might not be able to choose for themselves whether to participate in worship.

June 2009

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