In schools with a designated religious character, like Catholic schools, collective worship is far more than a statutory requirement. It is crucial to the spiritual life of the school and to pupils’ moral and spiritual development. Collective worship is an important part of a Catholic school’s distinctive ethos.
Taking part in daily collective worship helps build community cohesion by creating a consistent structure around the core values and symbols of Christianity. In Catholic schools, pupil participation and engagement in worship are important criteria in the diocesan inspection of Catholic education, not least during the daily act of collective worship. From Year R to Year 13, pupils are invited to play an active part in collective worship.
Throughout the year, Catholic school communities come together to celebrate important events in the Church’s calendar, such as Lent and Advent, as well as the start and end of the academic year. Through regular prayer and worship, including Mass, the rhythm of the Church’s year becomes a normal part of school life and each pupil’s life.
These activities are integral to the Catholic identity and life of the school; they would take place in all Catholic schools, whether or not schools were required by statute to provide collective worship.
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Prayer is central to the life of St. Swithun Wells. Every school session begins with prayer, though prayer can also take place at any time of the school day; in thought, word, deed and action. The programme provides opportunities for celebration, prayer and reflection, which are geared to the developmental stages of the children.
Children should experience and explore a variety of methods of prayer, such as;
It is important that prayer experiences should take into account the following:
Teachers plan to allow the children to be prepared for and appreciate the celebration of Assemblies and Holy Mass. In these, pupils can take an active part, contribute to the preparation and gain a real sense of involvement while experiencing a celebration at their own level.
Pupils have daily prayers and experience RE throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum in both discreet and cross curricular lessons. In nursery children participate in a Christmas and summer liturgy. Reception children participate in school assemblies, masses, Christmas and Easter celebrations.
Pupils take part in assemblies, class liturgies, Harvest, Christmas and Easter celebrations. There is a weekly assembly which focuses on the Sunday’s Gospel (a whole school experience) and celebrations that have a focus related to themes currently being taught or appropriate to the Liturgical calendar. Drama, music and active participation are features of these celebrations and children are encouraged to enjoy the time spent.
The development of faith is the purpose of every assembly in school and participation by pupils in preparing and presenting these is very important. Assemblies are an experience of worship in their own right. In organising an assembly it is necessary to;
“encourage the pupils to contribute appropriate skills and gifts in a spirit of offering and sharing…..”
The purpose of each assembly must be clear and not arranged to;“inform the school community by way of notices to reward, punish or warn.”
If there is need to reflect upon discipline and the context of school life, this is best done as an integral part of an assembly, but should not be added on at the end unless it is clear that the worship part of the assembly is over. Sensitivity to the nature of worship and its setting should inform what takes place, giving opportunities for staff and pupils to pray together, share their thoughts, feelings and experiences, avoiding too much concern about production and performance.