Strand 6 – The impact of Collective Worship
We hope that you found the first edition of the governor blog useful. In this blog, we look at the role of Foundation Governors in engaging with and monitoring the impact of collective worship for both adults and pupils.
The SIAMS Schedule states that inspectors must explore: The ways in which collective worship is an expression of the school’s Christian vision.
Collective Worship is often described as the heartbeat of the school day; it is where the community can join together, pause, reflect and have the opportunity to encounter the teachings of Jesus. This is absolutely key and should be 100% Christian in content. The collective worship is designed to be inclusive, invitational and inspirational.
The publication; Guidance for Collective Worship in Church of England Schools is an essential read and sets out this terminology in detail.
Inclusive, inspirational and invitational
It is only in a school context where collective worship happens because it is worship where Christians, those of other faiths and worldviews, together with those of no faith at all join together.
Aim to offer children and adults the opportunity, without compulsion, to discuss and reflect on their own spirituality. It is about journeying together.
Aim to offer everyone the opportunity to engage in collective worship, whilst allowing the freedom for those of other faiths and none to be present with integrity. This can be achieved through the language we use when inviting the community to pray / reflect. It is also about the song choices in the collective worship.
The aim is to ensure that worship is creative and inspires all, through music, arts, liturgy, stories and reflection time. It should represent diversity with the aim to develop children’s appreciation of the variety of traditions, globally, in the Anglican Church. This includes the Church year, types of prayer, colours of the altar cloth and song.
Therefore, it is important that Foundation Governors have had discussions with leaders and pupils about the educational value of collective worship in their school and the impact that it is having. Some schools have developed journals to record impact, some have reflection trees, whilst others have the reflection question / key Bible verse for the week on display in the entrance hall and visible on newsletters.
Patterns of collective worship
We often talk about patterns and collective worship in schools have a pattern of gathering, engaging, responding and sending. This is known as the school liturgy for collective worship.
Gathering—Marking the start of the worship and drawing everyone together. This may include a specific form of welcome, a regular prayer, a call and response, specific actions such as lighting a candle etc.
Engaging—Communicating the message of the worship and stimulating thinking, for example telling and explaining a bible story, investigating a particular theme, talking about a current topical issue etc.
Responding— Giving opportunity for individual thought about and response to the message / challenge. This may include pupils sharing their ideas, a time of silent and / or guided reflection, prayers in response to the theme etc.
Sending— Marking the end of the worship and sending everyone out with purpose. This may include a challenge to apply what they have learnt from the theme, a closing prayer, a call and response, specific actions such as extinguishing the candle etc.
The Diocese of Canterbury have produced an excellent guide on this liturgy and describes the biblical context for the GERS approach on p.13 of the guidance.
Pupil leadership is extremely important and may take the form of welcomers, caretakers, writing prayers, developing the powerpoint and monitoring the impact. One good model is having pupil representation on the ethos committee.
The SIAMS Schedule
In developing Collective Worship in a Church school, school leaders are advised to use these self-evaluation questions when completing the SIAMS SEF:
- Offers the opportunity, without compulsion, to all pupils and adults to grow spiritually through experiences of prayer, stillness, worship and reflection.
- Enables all pupils and adults to appreciate that Christians worship in different ways, for example using music, silence, story, prayer, reflection, the varied liturgical and other traditions of Anglican/Methodist worship, festivals and, where appropriate, the Eucharist.
- Helps pupils and adults to appreciate the relevance of faith in today’s world, to encounter the teachings of Jesus and the Bible and to develop their understanding of the Christian belief in the trinitarian nature of God and its language.
- Enables pupils as well as adults to engage in the planning, leading and evaluation of collective worship in ways that lead to improving practice. Leaders of worship, including clergy, have access to regular training.
- Encourages local church community partnerships to support the school effectively in developing its provision for collective worship.
The Diocese of Norwich Education Team offers bespoke training on collective worship and runs a termly network. For more details, please see Training & events — Diocese of Norwich