Creating a policy statement on assemblies
It is essential that each school has a clear policy statement that sets out the aims and principles of worship as well as giving details of the strategies that are employed to ensure that Collective Worship is a vibrant and worthwhile activity. It is important that all are involved and are aware of the procedures for Collective Worship in the school.
Whether as a school you are writing a new policy or reviewing the existing one the guidelines below are offered as a focus for discussions.
The suggested framework for a policy is:
Aims: What does the school hope to achieve through Collective Worship?
Principles: What are the beliefs that the school holds about Collective Worship?
Strategies: How will Collective Worship be co-ordinated, organised, resourced, planned and evaluated?
Conclusion: A summary statement of the nature, character and value of Collective Worship.
In drawing up the policy copies of Spiritual and Moral Development – A discussion paper (NCC, 1993), the 1988 ERA and Circular 1/94 will prove valuable.
The aims of Collective Worship will be specific to each school. To establish those suitable for your school you could begin by considering each of the aims listed below. Which are essential, which are not relevant and which do you consider need further discussion and thought?
a) To explore social, moral and spiritual values
b) To consider and celebrate the values of the Christian Gospels
c) To encourage an understanding of religious beliefs and practices
d) To consider and celebrate the richness of Christianity and of other faith traditions
e) To develop a sense of community
f) To affirm and develop the individual
g) To offer opportunities for reflection, meditation and prayer
h) To develop a sense of enquiry and to encourage a search for human meaning
i) To foster a sense of joy, awe and wonder in creation
j) To experience the sacred and to develop an awareness of the presence of God in others and in oneself
k) To appreciate symbolism and ritual as aspects of worship
l) To encourage an awareness of and a compassion for the needs of the world community.
What are the principles on which Collective Worship is to be founded? Again each of the following suggestions could be a starting point.
Collective worship should be:
· An educational activity linked to the whole curriculum
· Memorable and enjoyable
· Designed to actively engage pupils, and elicit responses
· Resourced and planned
· Flexible and able to respond to special occasions
· Related to the age, ability and background of pupils
· A sense of occasion
· Inclusive and not confessional.
It is the intention of this book to help in the planning of Collective Worship by providing a framework for the delivery and support materials for both tutorial worship and assemblies. Answers to the following questions should serve to form the basis of the strategies for Collective Worship in your school.
Who will have overall responsibility?
Will a Collective Worship planning group be established?
What venues and groupings of pupils will be used (form, year, whole school or a mixture)?
Will Collective Worship be carried out within assembly time? If so, will any guidance be given to staff as to how to make a distinction between the ‘business’ and ‘worship’ elements of assembly?
Are existing resources catalogued?
How do you ensure that resources are sufficiently used – is there, for example, a brief summary of each assembly book?
Has use been made of information from aid agencies, newspapers, magazines?
Are pupils involved in developing resources (especially music)?
Are departments able to contribute to the stock of resources?
Is there any additional funding available to buy new resources?
How will you ensure that Collective Worship is:
- a planned and balanced experience for pupils
- wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character?
Would a pattern of weekly themes help to ensure these features?If weekly themes are used will there be flexibility to respond to unforeseen events – eg a time of disaster or of celebration?
How can form tutors be supported in delivering Collective Worship in the classrooms?
Will Collective Worship journals (see next section) be used to enable pupils to take an active role in tutor based Collective Worship?
Will pupils be involved in the planning, preparation and delivery of acts of Worship?
What support will be given to teachers delivering Collective Worship to year, house or whole-school groups?
How will you ensure that there is balance and variety in the styles of Collective Worship?
Will the skills of delivering meaningful Collective Worship be shared in INSET time?
Will visitors help to deliver Collective Worship? If so, what guidance will be given to ensure that the assembly is appropriate and relevant? Can you collaborate with neighbouring schools to establish a list of people who would be willing and able to be part of a school Collective Worship programme?
Recording and Evaluation
What methods will you use to record and evaluate Collective Worship?
How will the findings of your evaluation be used to further develop the quality of worship in school?
The conclusion should, very briefly, serve to summarise the aims, principles and strategies of Collective Worship. An indication should be given of the particular nature and character of worship within the school and of the value and importance placed upon it.
A record sheet for use with assemblies is available in the Documents section of this website.