HUMANISTS have criticised a lack of action over religious observance in Scottish schools.

The Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) said it was "disappointed" ministers had no plans to change current practice despite two UK-wide reports on the issue.

In December the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life said the current legal requirement for schools to hold acts of collective worship should be repealed and replaced by a requirement to hold "inclusive times for reflection". Similar calls were made in a report by the Arts and Humanities Research Council on Collective Worship.

Gordon MacRae, chief executive of the HSS, said: "We are very disappointed the Scottish Government will not be taking any action as a result of these two high-profile reports.

"Scotland has historically been at the forefront in pursuing progressive reforms to the treatment of philosophy and belief in education, so this is discouraging.

"The two reports analysed the policy situation across the UK, including a detailed assessment of what happens in Scotland, and both reports concluded that religious observance needs to be reformed.

"We know that the Scottish Government haven’t undertaken a serious review of this policy since 2005, and we think its time has come. It’s time that education policy reflected the reality of modern Scottish society."

In 2012 the HSS said the legal right of parents to withdraw their children from religious education and religious observance was being widely ignored in state schools.

Since 2005, Scottish schools have been required to make parents aware they can remove their children from religious education and observance.

However, churches believe religious observance in all schools is so inclusive that there would be very few occasions when a parent felt they should exercise the right to opt out.

According to the 2011 Census Scotland is moving away from Christianity. Figures showed 54 per cent of residents saw themselves as Christian - down 11 per cent in 2001.

Alison McInnes, a Liberal Democrat MSP who has campaigned on the issue, also called for a review by the Scottish Government.

She said: "It’s been over ten years since the Scottish Government undertook the last serious review into how having a time for reflection in schools fits into education policy.

"These two reports and their recommendations should have been the spark for ministers to take the reins on promoting a modern and inclusive society. "Religious observance in schools springs from another century. A school assembly can have an important role in fostering a sense of community, but only if it reflects the diversity of the community locally."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "There is no legal requirement in Scotland for schools to hold acts of collective worship. Instead, the terms "religious observance" or "time for reflection" are used in statute and guidance.

"Education Scotland guidance on religious observance and time for reflection explains how effective religious observance may take a variety of forms and need not include worship at all."

The report of the Independent Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life includes the recommendation that: "All pupils in state-funded schools should have a statutory entitlement to a curriculum about religion, philosophy and ethics that is relevant to today’s society and the broad framework of such a curriculum should be nationally agreed.

"The legal requirement for schools to hold acts of collective worship should be repealed, and replaced by a requirement to hold inclusive times for reflection."

society is calling for a change to the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 to make religious observance an opt-in activity, rather than an opt-out one, as is currently the case.