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