School assemblies provide unique and valuable opportunities to develop the school as a community and to promote the personal, spiritual and moral development of pupils. They provide opportunities to foster values and attitudes which bind people together for mutual encouragement and support. Daily Collective Worship is a statutory requirement and at Townley Grammar School for Girls occurs in the context of an assembly. Collective worship is conducted in ways which encourage and allow for a diversity of religious responses.
Aims For Collective Worship
DFE Circular 1/94 'Religious Education and Collective Worship' gives the following aims for collective worship:
Collective worship in schools should aim
- to provide the opportunity for pupils to worship God;
- to consider spiritual and moral issues and to explore their own beliefs;
- to encourage participation and response, whether through active involvement in the presentation of worship or through listening to and joining in the worship offered;
- to develop community spirit, promote a common ethos and shared values, and reinforce positive attitudes.
The Nature of Collective Worship
Collective worship should regularly include one or more of the following features:
- sharing values which are clearly based on religious faith;
- opportunity for pupils to think carefully (meditate) about these values as they affect themselves;
- opportunity for pupils to pray or to listen to prayer;
- opportunities for pupils to listen to, and think about extracts from sacred texts or other writings which have a religious theme.
Planning for Collective Worship
Mrs S Perfect plans the Assembly Rota liaising with Mr M Suranyi, the Director of Music. An assembly prefect is appointed each year to support Mrs Perfect.
The following areas can be used for assemblies, the hall, the two gyms and the drama studio.
The Assembly Pattern
A short class assembly is held with the form tutor on Tuesday mornings. Form tutors and a form representative are provided with assembly ideas, which include notable dates for the week, a brief explanation of the assembly theme, a reading and sometimes a prayer. Form representatives meet with Mrs Perfect and the assembly prefect to discuss the readings.
A thought for the day is also prepared for forms to use once a week.
Years 7 and 8 attend assembly in the main hall once a week on Mondays. They also attend their own junior assemblies on Wednesday and Friday in the gym. Years nine, ten and eleven have their own year group assemblies and they attend assembly in the hall twice a week. The sixth form meet together once or twice a week and attend assembly in the hall on Thursdays or Fridays. Lower school form prefects attend assembly in the gym with their forms on Wednesdays.
Most assemblies are "of a broadly Christian character", a hymn, a reading or talk followed by a prayer. The Headteacher, the Deputy Heads, Assistant Headteachers, Year Heads and other interested members of staff take assemblies. Pupils are encouraged to be actively involved. Each form prepares an assembly once a year and presents it either in the hall or the gym. Each form has an assembly representative who helps prepare or organise the form assembly. All prefects read regularly in the hall and help younger pupils to prepare their class assemblies. Individuals and groups of pupils regularly sing or play instruments as an integral part of an assembly.
The major Christian festivals of Easter and Christmas as well as harvest festival and Remembrance Day are celebrated by the whole school. The annual Head Girl's Day Service is prepared by the Head Girl and to which parents, governors and friends of the school are invited.
The following points summarise the statutory requirements in the Education Reform Act:
- All pupils in attendance at a school shall take part in an act of collective worship each day, unless they have been withdrawn by their parents.
- The act of collective worship can occur at any time of the school day. It can comprise either a single act by the whole school or separate acts of worship by pupils in different age groups or, if the SACRE has granted a permission to lift the requirement for wholly or mainly broadly Christian worship for a group of pupils, by different groups.
- The head teacher in a county school is responsible for ensuring that all pupils in attendance attend collective worship daily;
- At least 51% of acts of collective worship, taking each term as a whole, must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. The remaining acts of collective worship during the term can have content of any combination of Christian and other faiths;
- All acts of collective worship shall take into account the family backgrounds of the pupils and their ages and aptitudes;
- The organisation and nature of collective worship in a county school is the responsibility of the head teacher, after consultation with the governing body;
- The head teacher, after consulting with the governing body, can apply to the SACRE for permission to provide alternative collective worship for any class or description of pupils in the school for whom the requirement of wholly or mainly broadly Christian worship is inappropriate. The governing body may consult with parents when the head teacher has indicated the intention to seek permission.