The liturgical calendar, covering the academic year 2023 / 2024, indicates the festivals and seasons of the Anglican Church with their liturgical colours. It will be useful to schools as they plan their collective worship. In addition, there is also a table with key festivals of other World religions. Click here to download the calendar.
What is Collective Worship and why is it important in a church school?
Collective worship is an important part of the life of a church school. It is a time for community, where the school family comes together to reflect and celebrate. It is a time of challenge, where all are encouraged and inspired to wrestle with the big spiritual and ethical questions of life and relationships. And it is a time of intentional spirituality when, in an invitational and inclusive way, members of the school community can experience the spiritual through story, prayer, silence, liturgy and song, and equip themselves for the ongoing journey of life.
In schools our worship is ‘collective’ not ‘corporate’. Corporate worship, conducted by worshipping communities of all faiths in their places of worship, assumes that all are gathered with a shared belief and world view. Collective worship does not. It starts with the assumption that within the school there will be many shades of belief, from committed adherence to differing faiths to strong assertion that there is nothing beyond our physical experience. Many will be unsure of what they believe or will not have even considered these sorts of questions.
Collective worship is for everyone, whatever their starting points and world views. Grounded on the Christian foundation of our schools, it seeks to use the Christian narrative and understanding, from the Bible and Christian teaching, as a springboard for all to consider how we live together and how we each find our own answer to the universal questions humanity has wrestled with over the centuries. It is not about telling people what to believe, but about encouraging them to think, grow and become more confident in who they are and how they understand the world to be.
Development & Training
We offer a variety of ways in which schools can develop their practice in collective worship. These include training courses, ranging from an introductory course for those new to leading worship to courses to help schools further deepen the impact of their established patterns of worship. Through each school’s linked adviser, we can support schools through guidance to leaders or training for staff, as well as offering an in school workshop to support pupils to become leaders of worship. We can also support schools to review and refresh their practice through a ‘Collective Worship Review’. For more information about any of this support, speak to your diocesan adviser or visit ESP Online for training courses.
The Legal Background
All maintained schools* are legally required to have a daily act of collective worship that is mainly or broadly Christian in nature. For more details about the legal background, click here.
- All registered pupils (apart from those whose parents exercise the right to withdrawal or pupils themselves if over the age of 18) must on "each school day take part in an act of Collective Worship."
- In Church schools the daily act of Collective Worship should be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Trust Deed of the school and the Ethos Statement in the Instrument of Government or, where it is not stated within the Trust Deed, should be consistent with the beliefs and practices of the Church of England.
- Pupils can be grouped in various ways: as a whole school, according to age, or in groups (or a combination of groups) used by the school at other times. Pupils cannot be put into specific groups just for Collective Worship.
- The daily act of Collective Worship will normally take place on the school premises. Schools are, however, permitted to hold their acts of Collective Worship elsewhere, (e.g. the local parish church) on special occasions.
- The provisions of the 1988 Education Act concerning ‘determination’ (section 12) and ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ (section 7) do not apply to schools with a religious character.
- Responsibility for the oversight of Collective Worship rests with the governors in consultation with the headteacher. Foundation governors have a particular responsibility to ensure that the character or foundation of the school is reflected in Collective Worship.
- Collective Worship is not designated curriculum time under law and should not be subsumed under any part of the curriculum. The act of Collective Worship must be distinctive and identifiable if it is to meet the legal requirements.
- Since collective worship is not to be counted as curriculum time, PPA time should not include or overlap Collective Worship. Collective Worship time should not be used as ‘intervention time’ as this would result in pupils not receiving their legal entitlement to worship provision.
- The school’s arrangements for Collective Worship and the rights of parents to withdraw their children should be clearly outlined in the school prospectus or website.
We have a comprehensive range of training and support. Every school also has a named adviser who is able to offer guidance and support to develop and enhance Collective Worship if your school subscribed to the Enhanced Service Plan.
We have also produced variety of collective worship resources in our Rhythm of Life series. These include PowerPoint presentations, videos and worship plans for Advent, Lent and Pentecost, as well as teacher guides and other resources.
Other worship resources we have created for schools include resources for Generosity Week and acts of worship to encourage reflection on the Christian motivation for environmental action, as part of our Saving Creation: Toolkit for Schools.
The importance of collective worship within church schools and indications of best practice have been communicated through various publications by the Church of England. These include:
- Collective Worship in Church of England Schools: Inclusive, Invitational & Inspiring (2021)
- Church of England Website: Collective Worship
- The SIAMS Framework (2023)