‘The challenge consists in creating an experience which neither compromises belief but rather recognises the integrity and dignity of all members of the school community; which is essentially educational and stimulates the possibility of reflecting inwardly, sharing outwardly and living upwardly’.
It is amazing the impact that collective worship can have. As a headteacher, this is my time to really implement changes, values and models of things that we all expect the children to be demonstrating each day.
I have also realised how important it is to plan out the collective worship- to really think through what it is that I want the ‘outcome’ to be. Each big term, I have thought through what themes I want to cover, linking in festivals, holidays, theme weeks, etc. Since September, I have also tried to book in an outside speaker once a week, our link church vicar, other vicars from the community, speakers from relevant charities or partnerships, etc. I am going to begin fleshing out my daily plans using the ‘5 Minute Planners’ from @teachertoolkit. Just before Christmas I did a range of activities using the ‘Learner’s Voice’ activities to evaluate our collective worship so far. This was a very useful tool and has helped me to plan out what I am going to do this term, adding in things that the children really enjoyed and taking out some of the things that they found boring, or better yet, putting a new twist on things.
At the start of the school year, our school community voted on six key values that would underpin everything that we do. They are; Service, Faith, Responsibility, Integrity, Truth and Excellence. Therefore, many of our themes centre on these values and other values that stem from them. So quite like the ‘Values Education’ framework, we use values but in a slightly different way and linked to Christian themes.
Something that I am starting this term is working with a ‘Worship Team.’ Four children from across KS2 have been chosen or nominated by their class, to plan and lead worship sessions. We will be having our first meeting later this week, so I will let you know how it goes. The aim is to have them lead a collective worship at least once a month to begin with and to perhaps increase this as their confidence with planning and leading, grows.
I thought it was important for me to lead most of the collective worship sessions during the first big term. I am a new headteacher and I wanted to make my presence known and to let the children have a chance to really get to know me. However, from this term, I am starting a rota so that all teachers have a chance to lead collective worship. Not only is it good for their professional development, but it is a fantastic opportunity for them to be seen in a slightly different role and for them to be known by all the children in the school. Too often we have teachers, who if you said their name to a child, they wouldn’t know who they were! We are a team, working together, all in it for the children…….so, every teacher needs a chance to ‘teach’ every child and lead them during this very powerful time.
I remind the children why we need to be silent arriving and leaving our worship and why we need to be ‘still’ during these times. Being ‘still’ is very difficult, not only for the children, but also for the adults. It is actually a skill that needs to be developed. Our reception class has begun joining us every day for collective worship and last term they found it really difficult to sit through just one worship session a week. I began using some ‘Relax Kids’ resources every so often to ‘teach’ the children how to be quiet and still, how to listen to their thoughts and how to just, ‘be.’ They have been extremely useful in teaching ‘stillness’ across the school and the change has been tremendous.
Collective worship is a time to teach children about being themselves and having the courage to do what is right. It is a time to re-focus and think about the values that we should be modelling, about how we can work together and truly be the best we can be. Being silent and still is the only way in which to do this…….to allow the thinking time necessary for children to understand what they should be aiming for…..to give them the space to develop their character……
What does your collective worship look like?