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Acts of daily worship

Collective Worship at Central Primary School 

It is a legal requirement that all registered school age pupils take part in an act of worship each day. These acts of worship must be “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian Character” for the majority of the time. They must also be “appropriate, having regard to the ages, aptitudes and family backgrounds of the pupils”.

Families who send their children to our school are in the main from practising Christian families, in addition, there are children who are from religions other than Christianity and some from non-religious backgrounds.  We recognise that in asking our children to worship we have to consider the background that our children come from and it is therefore not the practice of this school to preach to or convert the children.  The faith background of both the staff and the child’s family is respected at all times.

The Principal/Head of Centre and or RE leader is responsible (under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998) for arranging the daily collective worship after consulting with the governing body. Parents of a pupil at a community, foundation or voluntary school have a right to withdraw their children from collective worship. If a parent asks for their child to be wholly or partly excused from attending collective worship at the school the school must comply unless the request is withdrawn. Any parent who wishes to exercise this right should consult the Principal/Head of Centre.

SOME DEFINITIONS

Worship from within a faith tradition has a very specific definition.  A school community is not a worshipping community and the law recognises this by requiring “collective” not “corporate” worship.  Broadly, worship in school is more appropriately referred to as worth-ship.  This might encompass what is offered in a spirit of admiration, celebration and respect to God and/or people of excellence, worthy of honour and by extension to concepts, principles and conduct which are worthy of celebration as examples of the highest achievements of the human spirit.

Worship defined in this way draws on literature, music, art, drama and other sources of inspiration and reflection for pupils and staff whose religious and cultural backgrounds are of any faith or none.  In this way collective worship is inclusive not exclusive.

Worship of a broadly Christian character

he majority of acts of worship must be of a “broadly Christian character”, and those that are must reflect the broad traditions of Christian belief without being denominational.

Many of the characteristics of Christianity are shared by all the faiths.  It is important to concentrate on these as well as those specific to Christianity.

 

Values And Aims

We believe at our school that collective worship both support and strengthen what we aim to do in every aspect of school life.  Our caring ethos and the value which we place on the development of the whole child; spiritually, morally, socially, culturally and intellectually is reflected in our worship.  We value this special time in the school day for the space it gives children to develop a reflective approach to life and the ability to express their reflections in traditionally religious ways or any other appropriate manner.

 

Through our collective worship we aim to provide a caring and supporting environment for children to:

  • Become increasingly aware of themselves as individuals and groups within the school and wider community
  • Grow in understanding of the feelings of other people in everyday situations and beliefs
  • Explore the language which people use to express their feelings
  • Deepen their sense of wonder about the world around them
  • Grow in confidence when making a presentation to the group or whole school
  • Respond freely to religious and/or spiritual stimulus
  • Acknowledge diversity and affirm each person’s life stance, whether it be religious or not

Worship both reflects and nurtures the ethos of the whole school.  It encompasses all aspects of school life and all areas of the curriculum so that every member of staff and every pupil may feel involved.  In particular school worship here develops the feeling of belonging to a community which is essential for personal development and spiritual growth.

Objectives

We encourage pupils to:

  • Show interest in, and a concern for, members of the school community
  • Celebrate special occasions together
  • Show concern for the daily happenings in school life, the local community and the wider world
  • Share appreciation of worthwhile projects undertaken by groups within the school
  • Explore and review the variety of  values, attitudes, standards, manifested in religions and society
  • Reflect upon dimensions of human life – the wonderful, beautiful, joyful, heroic, humorous, tragic, sorrowful, solemn….;
  • Reflect on the way in which humankind has expressed the deepest spiritual feelings, through the creative and expressive arts, scientific discovery, religious practice, service to God and other people.

Delivering Collective Worship:

We choose from a range of methods, including:

  • Pupil’s contributions
  • Sacred and secular stories/readings
  • Dance/drama
  • Prayer/reflection/meditation/songs/hymns/music
  • Artefacts/natural materials
  • Visual aids/focal points
  • Dialogue/creative silence

 

Success Criteria:

At this school evaluate our acts of worship against some of the following:

  • Involvement, enjoyment, attention, reaction of pupils
  • The growth of respect and tolerance within the school community
  • Positive response to shared experience
  • An atmosphere which  matches the theme
  • A contribution to individual and community sense of well being
  • A sense of occasion
  • Good order
  • Staff affirmation
  • A sense of challenge
  • A place in the overall plan of the school
  • Enrichment of pupil’s experience

Prayer

The use of prayer has led to a great deal of debate.  We feel that prayer is a good way of enabling children to focus their thoughts.  Nevertheless, pupils should not be required to say or affirm prayers in which they do not believe. We have developed various forms of introductions to our prayers which distance children, but give them the opportunity to participate if they so desire; e.g., ‘And now in a moment of stillness, listen to the words of a well-known Christian/ Hindu/ Muslim prayer/poem/reading…’  In this way we are able to use prayers from many different traditions.

It is not always necessary to have a prayer and the use of regular moments of silence and reflection provides opportunities for some pupils to respond in a personal way if they so wish.