All schools are required to offer a Christian act of collective worship every day. Parents can choose to withdraw their children up to 16, and if you’re older you can choose to withdraw yourself. The DfE guidance can be found here.
Why is collective worship important in Catholic schools?
In schools with a designated religious character, like Catholic schools, collective worship is far more than a statutory requirement. It is crucial to the spiritual life of the school and to pupils’ moral and spiritual development. Collective worship is an important part of a Catholic school’s distinctive ethos.
Taking part in daily collective worship helps build community cohesion by creating a consistent structure around the core values and symbols of Christianity. In Catholic schools, pupil participation and engagement in worship are important criteria in the diocesan inspection of Catholic education, not least during the daily act of collective worship. From Year R to Year 13, pupils are invited to play an active part in collective worship.
Throughout the year, Catholic school communities come together to celebrate important events in the Church’s calendar, such as Lent and Advent, as well as the start and end of the academic year. Through regular prayer and worship, including Mass, the rhythm of the Church’s year becomes a normal part of school life and each pupil’s life.
These activities are integral to the Catholic identity and life of the school; they would take place in all Catholic schools, whether or not schools were required by statute to provide collective worship.
Why is collective worship important in all schools?
Britain is a multicultural and multi-faith society. In this context, collective worship remains an essential part of the life of every school, for community schools and academies just as much as in denominational faith schools. Ofsted stopped inspecting collective worship in 2004, but it remains a legal requirement. Many schools continue to hold acts of collective worship because of the value to the school community and to children’s broader educational development.
Collective worship offers all schools the chance to explore and understand the values at the heart of their ethos. From forgiveness and humility, to gratitude and justice, collective worship offers all pupils a space to reflect. By meeting on a regular basis, the school comes together to reflect on the world around them and their place in it. This can include exploring the meaning of religious festivals but also annual national events, such as the place of Remembrance Day in British society.
If it is a part of a school’s routine, collective worship provides a shared language of values to build a close-knit cohesive community. Whether in times of crisis or celebration, the time set aside in the school day for reflection provides everyone with the opportunity to gather and support one another as a community.