Assemblies and Collective Worship
At St Mary's, Collective Worship (getting together for an assembly) is a wonderful opportunity to share, reflect and explore personal beliefs, issues of identity, and questions of meaning and purpose. Children will often cite their love & enthusiasm for assemblies.
Each half term a new theme is introduced and is explored in the acts of Collective Worship. In this way it makes an important contribution to promoting children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development (please click to find out more about SMSC Development at our school). It is also a vehicle for supporting inclusion as well as building community cohesion.
Collective Worship is a legal requirement of schools under the 1944 Education Act & was affirmed in subsequent legislation (1988 and 1996). In accordance with the law and the ethos of our school, the majority of acts of Collective Worship reflect the ‘broad traditions of Christian belief’. This does not restrict the focus exclusively to Christianity alone, but will sometimes include material from a range of spiritual, religious and secular contexts.
Pupils will be encouraged to explore ideas arising from the stimulus material presented by staff and visitors and invited to reflect on them from their own perspectives. There is never any intention to impose religious ideas or beliefs on pupils but often the material can raise issues and questions that are relevant to their lives, irrespective of their background.
There will always be a time of quiet when pupils are invited to reflect on the focus of the assembly, with an invitation to those children for whom it is appropriate to make their thoughts into a personal prayer. Sometimes words of traditional prayers are used to support that reflection.
Through Collective Worship at St Mary's, our intentions are that:
- Children will take part in Collective Worship every day;
- The collective worship will include the singing of hymns, choruses and songs and opportunities are given, both to join in with and to listen to prayers;
- Time will also be provided for silence and reflection;
- Themes from our St Mary's Two Year Cycle of Assemblies will be used. They will be varied and will always have a moral imperative whether based on Biblical topics or relating to the cycle of the seasons, the wonders of the world, the deeds of human kind or the celebration of religious festivals;
- Themes will also relate to special days & celebrations plus the children’s interests;
- The themes will be put forward in a variety of ways, e.g. through story, prose, poetry, drama, art, music, discussion;
- Whilst the majority of assemblies will be Christian based, there will sometimes be a focus or reference to other faiths;
- All members of staff are given the opportunity to lead Collective Worship;
- All children are given the opportunity to take a lead;
- Members of appropriate organisations are invited to share in Collective Worship.
Through the above, we intend that our children will:
- have the opportunity to worship & to develop a relationship with God if they wish to;
- develop an understanding of Christian values, where these originate & what these can add to their own life & practice;
- develop respect and understanding of the self and of others;
- create a sense of belonging and connecting to the world;
- develop empathy and community with others;
- provide security within which pupils can share their values and beliefs;
- provide opportunities to question and reflect;
- promote discernment and support pupils in combating prejudice;
- encourage an appreciation of the intangible, e.g. beauty, truth, love, goodness as well as for mystery, paradox, and ambiguity
At St Mary's, we conduct assemblies in a dignified and respectful manner. We tell children that assembly time is a period of calm reflection. We regard it as a special time and expect children to behave in an appropriate manner. We ask them to be quiet and thoughtful and to listen carefully to the teachings and participate fully in prayer and singing. We create an appropriate atmosphere by using music and sometimes candles or other objects that act as a focal point for the attention of the children.
Weekly Cycle of Assemblies:
- Monday: Whole School Celebration Assembly in which the St Mary's Declaration, St Mary's ‘Proud to Be’ List & Lord’s Prayer are recited.
- Tuesday: Whole School Themed Assembly – taken from the St Mary's 2 Year Cycle of Assemblies & including prayer & reflection.
- Wednesday: Whole School Themed Assembly – taken from the St Mary's 2 Year Cycle of Assemblies & including prayer & reflection.
- Thursday: Singing Assembly – active songs of praise & worship.
- Friday: Reflection Assembly- Pupil's are given the opportunity to reflect on world events that occurred that week
Right of Withdrawal:
At St Mary's, we hope to provide Collective Worship that offers an inclusive opportunity to foster a sense of belonging for everyone associated with the school. For this reason, it is hoped all pupils will take part every day. However, if parents do not want their child to be included, they have the right to withdraw her or him from one or all acts of Collective Worship. Those wishing to do so are asked to discuss their reasons with the Head of School and to complete and sign a withdrawal form. No provision of alternative activities has been agreed.
To find out more about Collective Worship at our school, please download our Collective Worship Policy below.