Collective Worship in the Secondary School

Collective worship is a legal requirement based on the Education Reform Act 1988 and the Welsh Office Circular 10/94. The requirements are:

  • schools must provide collective worship daily for all registered pupils
  • most acts of collective worship in each term should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. This means that they should reflect the broad traditions of Christian belief without being distinctive of any particular Christian denomination
  • collective worship can take place at any time during the school day
  • collective worship can be provided to pupils in any sized group, for example, as a class, a year group, a phase group or a whole-school community
  • collective worship should take account of the family backgrounds, ages and aptitudes of the pupils involved. (Estyn – Supplementary guidance: collective worship in non-denominational schools. September 2013)

Newbridge School complies with the legal requirements of providing collective worship for all registered pupils. Collective worship, whether in assembly time or form tutor time, provides the opportunity for pupils to:

  • Worship God
  • Reflect on values that are of a broadly Christian nature and their own beliefs
  • Reflect on the values of other faiths and also values from broader human experiences that are not explicitly religious
  • Develop a community spirit, a common ethos and shared values
  • Share their common spiritual beliefs and to reflect upon moral and spiritual issues that affect everyday lives
  • Respond to the worship offered

At Newbridge School, the Religious Education department is timetabled for an hour a fortnight, to plan and prepare collective worship on behalf of the whole school. An overview of themes is prepared for each academic year. These themes reflect on festivals in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism and important events in the school community; locally, nationally and internationally.

Collective worship, during form tutor time, is accessible to the whole school community and includes a variety of elements. In order to facilitate an act of collective worship during form tutor time, two prepared assemblies are provided for staff and pupils in a booklet. The assemblies consist of a thought and theme of the week, an introduction or short story based on the theme and thought of the week, a time for reflection and a prayer.

The time to reflect is of particular importance for self evaluation. Inspectors consider whether pupils have opportunities to: ‘develop a sense of curiosity through reflection on their own and other people’s lives and beliefs, their environment and the human condition’ (2.3.1: provision for health and wellbeing, including spiritual, moral, social and cultural development –  Estyn – Guidance for the inspection of secondary schools from September 2014). At Newbridge School, pupils are encouraged to listen to and reflect, for a moment, upon how the assemblies have an impact on them and how they could be applied to the pupils every day life. For example, in an assembly on peace, pupils are asked to think about whether they consider the needs of others before their own and how they, personally, try to keep the peace.

The prepared assemblies are delivered by the form tutor or by the pupils themselves. However, form tutors are conscious of the family background, age and ability of the pupils in their tutor group. There are many issues and unexpected world events, during the year, that could be discussed with the tutor group, to supplement the planned assemblies. Tutors may also include their own ideas, reflections and experiences and those of pupils in the process. For example, an assembly on Ramadan in the summer term, led to questions relating to footballers fasting during the Fifa Football World Cup in Brazil.

Collective worship is periodically observed and monitored across all year groups, at Newbridge School, to assess the quality of delivery and the experience that pupils receive. Reports are issued to the Head Teacher and Governing Body. Collective worship scrutiny enables the observer to make comments, when appropriate, on whether the assembly was teacher or pupil led. It also provides them with an opportunity to comment on whether there was a discussion based on the theme and content of the assembly and whether the time to reflect allowed pupils to think for a moment, upon how the assembly could have an impact on them and their everyday life.

Pupils and staff, at Newbridge School, have a positive approach to collective worship. It was evident from the observations that collective worship is an integral part of form periods. Pupils understand the process of the assemblies and responded well, through their engagement and being respectful.

Helen Bartley

Head of Religious Studies

Newbridge School