Collective Worship in Northern Ireland's Schools

Aideen Hunter, Norman Richardson

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Northern Ireland is a unique country within the United Kingdom, having a complex and highly contested cultural and civic identity. Religion plays a specific defining role within this context. While it has been argued that the Northern Ireland conflict was not religious (Barnes, 2005), religion as a social identity marker, nevertheless plays a defining role in where people live, work, socialise and are educated. Religious Education and collective worship in schools have become the elephant in the room, under-researched and under-addressed in the post-conflict narrative. Religious Education has not been a major focus of community relations work or in shared education initiatives. Both historically and contemporarily in many schools there has been little distinction between religious instruction/education and participation in prayers and liturgical practices. Current legislative orders are inherited directives from the 1947 Education Act and the 1986 Education Reform order, which stipulate daily Christian collective worship which is not particular to any religious denomination. Collective worship is largely influenced by the ethos of a school and who is delivering it; there is no inspection or guidance on this process. This lack of direction results in considerable diversity across the sectors in the overall standards and quality of school collective worship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollective Worship and Religious Observance in Schools
Subtitle of host publicationReligion, Education and Values
EditorsPeter Crumper, Alison Mawhinney
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781787076570
ISBN (Print)9781787076556
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameReligion, Education and Values
PublisherPeter Lang


  • Religion
  • Schools
  • Human Rights


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  • Educational Perspectives on School Collective Worship: Beyond Obituary

    Hunter, A. & Richardson, N., 30 Jan 2018, Collective Worship and Religious Observance in Schools: Religion Education and Values. Crumper, P. & Mawhinney, A. (eds.). Oxford, UK: Peter Lang, Vol. 13. p. 277-300 24 p. (Religion, Education and Values).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    9 Downloads (Pure)

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