Religion in UK Boarding Schools


UK boarding schools welcome pupils of all religious faiths. Every independent boarding school in the UK has a mission statement that outlines the ultimate purpose, ideals and aims of the school. It is the motivating factor behind all policies and actions, and includes the principles by which the school is directed. The statement may also highlight the methods of achieving these aims and perhaps some of the methods of accomplishing the mission of the school.


Many schools are originally of a religious foundation, which may have an influence on the mission statement. They will have a particular spiritual basis and code, which may be a significant part of the education offered. The UK also has many secular schools, which have no particular religious affinity, to choose from.


Part of the all-round education offered by boarding schools is the spiritual and core values of humanity. To those who have a faith and follow a religion, the variety of instruction and practice is enormous.


For those without a particular faith, there are secular schools. If, however, those without religious beliefs attend faith-based schools that have a religious timetable, then the child will need to follow their customs. Each school will differ in its policy on these matters – there may be either a strict adherence or some leeway. Every Headteacher or registrar will be open to answering questions and explaining the details of their policy.


All religious faiths are accommodated in independent boarding schools in the UK, the schools are aware of the different customs and practices, such as special dietary requirements, specific times and places of prayer and worship, particular clothing, and a general accommodation of an ethos.


Schools with a religious emphasis frequently accept pupils from a wide range of faith backgrounds. Different denominations are also acknowledged and this can add to the breadth of educational experience. These faith schools may expect sympathy towards their belief systems, and may require pupils to attend religious services and activities.


School assemblies may be daily or weekly, and may be specifically religious in content or they may simply be for the carrying out of school business. Assemblies may be held within the boarding houses or by year group, and there may be morning and evening prayers. Again, the frequency of occurrence will vary from school to school. Most schools will have a weekly service of worship. In schools of Christian foundation, these will be on a Sunday in a designated chapel. Some will provide alternatives to public communal worship, in the form of lectures or times of silence running concurrently with the service.


The UK Government stipulates by law that some areas of religious beliefs are to be studied during a child’s compulsory education. Some schools offer specific courses in theology and philosophy leading to qualifications such as GCSEs and A-levels.