St Mary’s Church of England Primary School
Adopted by Governors: Spring 2018 Next Review Date: Spring 2022
“Through Humility, Courage and Devotion, we blossom and grow.”
The daily act of collective Worship is a legal requirement in all schools. In church schools this is Christian worship and reflects the traditions of the Church of England.
St. Mary’s Primary School is a Church school where our Christian faith lies at the heart of our ethos, creating and nurturing a compassionate and secure family community. We provide a caring school environment which challenges, motivates and stimulates each child, whilst fostering qualities of excellence.
St. Mary’s C of E Primary School is a 240-place school for children aged from 4 to 11 years. The school has eight classes organised as mixed ability classes across the seven year groups. The Governing Body of St Mary’s Church of England (Aided) Primary School adopted this Collective Worship policy in the spring term of 2018.
At St Mary’s Collective Worship is a time for the whole school community to step away from the busyness of daily routines, pause and reflect. This period each day enables us to create a sense of belonging through worship. It is about sharing our common concerns and responsibilities whilst exploring positive attitudes and values towards life both within the school community and beyond. We are committed to ensuring each individual will derive some benefit from these sessions.
Our collective worship affirms and celebrates the values and ethos of our school. We aim to begin to understand the issues of Christianity with God and the teachings of the gospels through values and themes. Collective worship is a special time for our children and staff to reflect upon their life experiences and develop their own spiritual identity.
Collective church School Worship provides everyone with the opportunity to:
- Pause and Reflect
- express praise and thanksgiving to God
- reflect on the attributes of God
- reflect on the teachings of Christ
- affirm Christian values and attitudes
- share each other's joys and challenges
- celebrate special times in the Christian calendar
- foster respect and unity
- deepen spiritual awareness
All church primary schools have close links with their parish churches. Clergy and leaders from other Christian denominations visit regularly to contribute to worship in school and occasional services are held in the local church.
Aims and purposes
We aim, through the Christian ethos at St. Mary’s C of E Primary School, to encourage all participants in School worship to communicate with God their questions, aspirations, feelings, thoughts and to give thanks.
We aim to help children consider Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development and to explore their own beliefs.
We encourage in children a sense of community spirit and promote a common Christian ethos with shared values, reinforcing positive attitudes.
In order to achieve these aims we provide the following opportunities:
- Time to come together to praise God;
- Time for thinking, sharing, listening, discussing, silence and reflection;
- Time to learn about Jesus’ teachings from The Bible;
- Opportunities to explore and reflect on general, current themes
- An understanding of Christian traditions and beliefs;
- An awareness of key events in the Liturgical year;
- Time to reflect on Christian symbols and their use in worship (e.g. cross, candles, bread, wine etc.);
- Time to worship through traditional and contemporary hymns and songs;
- Visitors who are invited to attend and lead school worship.
The Christian Distinctiveness Officer plans yearly school values and themes which Collective Worship plans follows. These values have been carefully selected from the values that form the foundation of St Mary’s and connect to the four St Mary’s Values:
We understand that worship is a special act or occasion where we, as a school, show reverence to God. Collective worship involves members of the School Community coming together and participating in an assembly.
In line with the 1988 Education Reform Act, which states that collective worship should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’, ‘we normally base our assemblies on the teachings of Christ and traditions of the Christian Church. We do, however, conduct our assemblies in a manner that is sensitive to the individual faiths and beliefs of all the members of the School.
While the majority of acts of worship in our School are Christian, we also hold assemblies that reflect other traditions that are represented in our School and wider community.
Organisation of Collective Worship
We hold a daily act of worship in our School, taking various forms:
- Story assembly led by the Head teacher. A bible story or similar is used to explore the value or theme of the week related to special religious events from around the world or social issues that may have occurred during the week.
- A visiting representative from one of the local churches leads this whole school assembly which again is explored through Christian or other faiths from around the world. All staff attend this act of worship.
- One Tuesday a Term the Worship Team create and lead their own assembly.
- Hymn Practice. These assemblies are led by the choir master from St. Mary’s Church. The children learn singing techniques, building their confidence to perform in front of an audience. The Staff lead classroom based assemblies at another point in the day to provide a reflection opportunity.
- Key Stage/Class assembly. A member of staff leads a key stage assembly, based on the theme of the week, to allow for differentiation across the age groups. On some Thursdays a class assembly will be held where a class leads the assembly.
- Celebration Assembly led by our pupil leadership team and the Head teacher. Children from each class are nominated by their class teacher where they have acted upon our school values. This assembly promotes the community spirit of the School to support the achievements of our children. All staff attend this assembly.
All assemblies follow the same structure as laid out on the assembly planning sheet.
A variety of methods and experiences are used during our collective worship sessions, including:
- A story or reading from the Bible
- A poem or story
- A film clip or presentation
- A personal account of an experience or event
- An inspirational figure or group
- Silence for reflection
- Visits to church
- Visitors to school
- All classes say Grace before lunchtime.
- In the Spring Term of 2008 the Governing Body of St Mary’s School introduced the REACH Award. It was designed to recognise those children that have best embodied the School’s Values.
- REACH stands for:
Be kind, helpful and look out for others
Always try your very best
Reach your targets and keep progressing
Creative thinking, talented artist / music / DT
Be a ray of sunshine
Each term a pupil from each year group is put forward by the class teacher as the best candidate to receive the award.
In a special REACH Assembly the winners are announced and come forward to be presented with their REACH Certificate and badge. The badge can be worn for the whole of the following term.
General Format of the Assemblies
- We take the themes of our assemblies from the traditions of the Christian faith and we often reflect the festivals and events of the Christian calendar.
- The themes of our assemblies also reflect and build upon topics that we teach as part of the School curriculum.
- Children and adults enter and leave the assembly in a dignified and respectful manner, often to carefully selected music, whilst drawing on children’s talents where possible.
- All are encouraged to appreciate that assembly time is a period of calm reflection, a special time, where appropriate behaviour is expected.
- We ask them to be quiet and thoughtful and to listen carefully to what is being presented to them.
- A candle is lit as a sign of prayer and meditation and provides a focal point for reflection on the theme.
- All Assemblies start with the words “Peace be with you” “and also with you” and end with “Go in peace” “Amen”
- The theme of the assembly is introduced and the main part of the assembly takes place, through story, drama, etc.
- All are encouraged to participate in prayers and hymns.
- Children are encouraged to answer questions about what they have read and heard.
- The worship team are responsible for evaluating an act of worship each term, creating and delivering an assembly a term and for monitoring the prayer and reflection sites around the school.
Right of Withdrawal
We expect all children to attend assemblies. However, any parent can request permission for their child to be excused from attending religious worship. This complies with the 1944 Education Act and was restated in the 1988 Education Reform Act.
The Head teacher keeps a record of all children who are withdrawn from collective worship.
Every term the school goes to St Mary’s Parish Church for a service, for example our New Beginnings service in September, Harvest, Christmas, Easter and our Leaver’s service. Parents and Governors are invited to be part of these services.
Children are also invited to visit local places of worship to gain a better insight into how different people worship.
Monitoring, Review and Inspection
Children are encouraged to feedback through the school council, circle times, and peer mediation groups about the acts of worship they have been involved in. The children’s thoughts are also gathered when the RE Governor and Coordinator are collecting evidence for their subject evaluations.
It is the role of the Governors to monitor the policy and practice of collective worship. This is usually conducted by the Collective Worship Governor, currently Rev Rachel Greene from St. Mary’s Church.
The Diocese inspects the School regularly. This involves a visit and an observation of an act of collective worship. The visit is followed by a report, which can be located in the Co-ordinator’s file.
The School is also inspected through Section 23 at or around the time of each OfSTED inspection date.
Collective worship is an important and welcome part of school life at St Mary’s. Both children and staff look forward to the daily opportunities to come together and sing, celebrate, pray and reflect.
We regularly welcome our local Rector, Reverend Rachel, along with other members of the local community to lead our worship and help us to understand Bible stories and their relevance to us today.
The children themselves enjoy presenting assemblies to the rest of the school and ensure that we observe and celebrate the main Christian festivals of Harvest, Remembrance, Christmas and Easter.
The Collective Worship Team
Our Collective Worship Team is comprised of pupils from each Key Stage 2 class. They meet regularly to consider the worship life of the school. This involves considering the content of assemblies and Pause Days but also reflecting on how the messages in collective worship spread into the school life and positively impact our local community.
In addition to this, the Collective Worship Team evaluates current practice in this area and suggests new ideas for worship across the school in a relaxed and open way. By doing this, the children have a vital role to play in helping to improve the Christian distinctiveness around our school.