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Curriculum | Collective Worship


At Mayflower Community Academy, the Plymouth SACRE Collective Worship Guidance 2020, is followed, upheld, and valued as part of our holistic approach to developing the minds, spirits and characters of our pupils. We understand the importance of 'taking time to breathe': bringing our school family together to support, celebrate and reflect on our shared values and achievements. This 'pause' in the day allows pupils to think of something bigger, to stretch boundaries and...wonder.

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What are the legal obligations?

The legal requirement for collective worship states that ‘The majority of acts of worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character'

We support the SACRE’s stance on this statement and endorse a broad definition of 'worship' which allows children to reflect upon their shared human experience and feelings of joy and sadness, thankfulness and need and the exploration of the spiritual area of experience. Pupils are provided with opportunities to do this on a daily basis – either in class, year groups or phases. As well as this, pupils at Mayflower experience a weekly key stage / whole school celebration assembly.

As with all areas of the curriculum, Collective Worship provides a valid educational experience. We respect the different beliefs of teachers, parents and children and understand that worship can only be inclusive if it has a broad definition to include those who both do, and don’t have a belief in divine beings or powers.

What does ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ mean?

The SACRE explains this as meaning that most school worship should reflect Christian beliefs, not necessarily Christian worship practices.

These beliefs encompass:

  • an underlying purpose to creation and human responsibility for it (e.g. an interest in the environment and stewardship of the earth’s resources arises from this belief)
  • a human beings’ responsibility and yet the failure to meet those demands fully (e.g. opposition to prejudice, cruelty, violence, arise from this belief)
  • the uniqueness and value of each human being and the possibility of new beginnings (e.g. value of human life, concern for self-knowledge, co-operation, respect arise from this belief)
  • the promotion of concern for the needs of others (particularly minorities) in the form of gratitude and forgiveness, and who opposed hypocrisy, exploitation and the harsh judgement of others

These Christian beliefs are reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus, but also give rise to values which are in harmony with the broad spiritual and moral concerns that are shared by the world's religions and other world views.

When selecting broadly Christian material or any other material, we ensure that acts of worship are ‘inclusive’. Assemblies that raise the beliefs suggested, provide opportunities for ‘broadly Christian’ collective worship, as well as stimulating all young people to reflect, to feel awe, to learn to be still and to consider the direction and meaning of their lives.

Content and presentation

The unifying element for each act of collective worship will be a central theme focusing the attention of all taking part on a single idea. For example, Mayflower’s shared vision and values, school or local events, a topic explored by one class, the lives and experiences of people past and present, current religious festivals, national and international days etc.

The methods used to present particular themes may take the form of:

  • Spoken word: story, poetry, interviews, discussion, readings from the Bible and from other religious and secular literature and choral speaking
  • Music and singing: hymns, popular songs, chants, or singing games
  • Visual stimuli: pictures, posters, artefacts, natural objects, religious objects, personal objects, works of art, or film clips
  • Performance: dance, music, mime, drama, role play, or puppets
  • Music: either performed or played
  • Preparing and sharing food
  • Silence: stilling, reflection, contemplation, meditation and, if appropriate, prayer

We ensure that pupils have silent reflection time to consider the moral or spiritual lesson being taught, or process what it might mean for them and what they may do in response. Some pupils choose this time to pray to their own God, whilst others may look inwards to reflect individually. This is a time to be calm and still together.

Planning for Collective Worship

One pattern that schools may use is to 'Gather - Engage – Respond – Send'. This gives a useful structure for collective worship (see Appendix 3 for more details).              

The use of 'Windows, Mirrors and Doors' helps children to think, reflect and consider their actions. WMD is a very successful way of giving children a process to think through big issues.

Windows: What is the big issue? What are we looking at?

Mirrors: What does this mean to me? What is the impact on me?

Doors: What am I going to do about it? How does this impact my community?

The right of withdrawal

We hope that, by adopting an inclusive stance, collective worship (assemblies), will be broadly accepted by a wide variety of people. Many parents see the provision of acts of worship by a school as part of its expression of care for the well-being of its pupils. However, there may be occasions when a parent insists on their right to withdraw their children from collective worship.

If you would like to withdraw your child from these experiences, please read our Collective Worship Policy and make your wishes known to the headteacher who will arrange that any pupils who are withdrawn will be supervised appropriately during the acts of collective worship.