West Acton was awarded a Determination in January 2022
After the visit, application and presentation by the Headteacher the following feedback was given:
Application for a determination for collective worship: West Acton Primary School at SACRE on Tuesday 25 January 2022
Thank you for submitting your application to Ealing SACRE for the school’s first collective worship determination and for your presentation at the SACRE meeting on 25 January 2022. Thank you also for hosting a meeting at the school with a SACRE member to discuss your application.
When all of the information presented has been considered, the four groups of SACRE are required to vote on the application and I am pleased to let you know that the decision to support granting the determination was unanimous. You may wish to share this outcome with school staff, parents and governors and other members of the school community.
In particular SACRE members noted the following excellent practice in the school:
- the wide range of resources available to support reflection including music,
school’s values and UNICEF rights of the child
- the creation of a special atmosphere to support reflection which is
really valued by the pupils
- the use of the prayer room by a diverse range of pupils in the school
The determination for collective worship lasts for five years from Spring 2022 and so will be due for renewal in Spring 2027. A reminder will be sent to the school in the Summer term 2026.
- What are the legal requirements for collective worship?
The legal requirements for collective worship are laid down in the 1988 Education Reform Act and in the Collective Worship Circular 1/94 (1993 – 1994), which was essentially an attempt to explain and enhance the 1988 Act. It states that collective worship: ‘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, through listening to and joining in the worship offered; and to develop community spirit, promote a common ethos and shared values, and reinforce positive attitudes’.
The following bullet points give a concise summary of these requirements:
- All pupils in attendance at a maintained school shall take part in an act of collective worship each day. This can take place in groups at any time during the school day. Children under the age of five are not required to take part in an act of collective worship. Children in reception classes are required to take part in a daily act of collective worship. The law applies to all registered pupils, so this includes those over the age of 16 in schools. The law applies to special schools in so far as it is practicable. Maintained voluntary aided and controlled schools are also required to have a daily act of collective worship, however, its character and content is determined by the governing body.
- Collective worship shall be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. This means it reflects the broad traditions of Christian belief without being distinctive of any particular Christian denomination. Across a term the majority of acts of collective worship should be of this character, however not all individual acts of worship need to be of this nature.
- Wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character
This statement means that collective worship must reflect the broad traditions of Christian belief. It does not mean that all acts of collective worship should contain only Christian material.
There are religious and human values that many religions and life stances (eg Humanism) have in common, eg justice, love, peace, charity, sacrifice, morality, saying sorry.
Worship with a theme such as ‘forgiveness’ or ‘honesty’ is broadly Christian even if specific Christian material is not used. Many Christian beliefs are shared by other world religions e.g. God as creator, humankind as stewards of the world, goodness overcoming evil. For example the Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates freedom from oppression and the power of God. In collective worship, material based on this celebration would allow those who believe in justice to share, and be broadly Christian too. Just over half the acts of collective worship need to be broadly Christian. Therefore a significant minority can be broadly of the character of other world religions. Specific Christian beliefs should not be ignored, e.g. Jesus as the son of God. The major Christian festivals will give the school an opportunity to reflect on these specific Christian beliefs. Schools may make use of Christian visitors to contribute to this element of the law.
By using these principles it is possible to provide collective worship of a broadly Christian character in a school where a large majority of students have a faith other than Christianity or have no faith.
- Collective worship should be appropriate to the ages, aptitudes and family backgrounds of pupils.
- The Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) may determine that it is not appropriate for a school to have collective worship of a wholly or mainly broadly Christian character. The headteacher of a maintained school may apply to SACRE for a determination after consultation with the governing body to consider whether it is appropriate for the requirement for Christian collective worship to apply in the case of their school.
A determination allows a school to be able to organise its collective worship in a way that is appropriate to its pupil make up, and lifts the legal requirement for collective worship to be wholly and mainly Christian. The 1988 Education Reform Act allows the requirements for ‘broadly Christian’ worship to be lifted in respect of some or all of the pupils in a school where appropriate. Before considering this, a school should consider carefully the guidance laid out in this document which shows ways in which the requirements for ‘broadly Christian’ worship in a multi-faith school can be met without a determination. If a headteacher wishes to apply for a determination, they must make an application to SACRE. Before doing so the headteacher must consult the school’s governing body who in turn may wish to seek the views of parents. The headteacher and governors should take care to safeguard the interests of any parents of children for whom broadly Christian collective worship is appropriate. In considering whether to apply for a determination the headteacher should take into account the number of withdrawals from broadly Christian worship that have been made. The headteacher’s application may relate either to a clearly described and defined group or to the whole school.
- Parents have a right to withdraw their child(ren) from all or part of collective worship.
Teachers work very hard to ensure that collective worship is inclusive and appropriate for all children. However, in a small number of circumstances, parents have requested that their child(ren) be withdrawn from collective worship, and the school must comply with their request. The following guidance is based on DFE circular 1/94, with additional notes (in italics).
- If a parent asks that a pupil should be wholly or partly excused from attending any collective worship in the school, then the school must comply. This includes alternative worship provided by the school as a result of a determination. Parents are not obliged to give reasons for the withdrawal. It is good to meet with the parents/carers to discuss their concerns and, in many cases, the parents/carers will want their child to continue attending collective worship once the aims have been made clear. On some occasions it is through a lack of understanding that withdrawal is requested, and discussion allows fears to be addressed. In addition, parents may be invited to observe an act of collective worship.
- A school continues to be responsible for the supervision of any child withdrawn from collective worship.
- Normally the right to withdraw would be fulfilled by the physical withdrawal of the child from the act of worship. However, if the school and parents agree, the child may remain physically present in the act of worship but not take part in it eg watching an act of collective worship about Diwali, but not joining in a song about Diwali
- What is collective worship?
- Nature of collective worship in schools ‘Worship’ is not defined in the Education Act. This guidance therefore draws on the DFE circular 1/94 for clarification. This states that: ‘worship must in some sense reflect something special or separate from ordinary school activities and it should be concerned with reverence or veneration paid to a divine being or power… worship in schools will necessarily be of a different character from worship amongst a group with beliefs in common’ It is not possible to compel people to worship, but we can provide opportunities for it to happen and enable pupils to respond reflectively. As collective worship takes place in schools, its primary function is an educational one, that is to promote spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) as well as intellectual development.
In light of this, collective worship should be: a) active, rather than passive (eg children are actively involved in answering questions) b) directed towards something (eg a value/someone) c) personal (eg time for reflection and response to God if appropriate)
Whilst there is a legal requirement for schools to conduct a 'daily act of collective worship'.(The 1988 Education Act and subsequent Acts), none of this legislation actually defines what is meant by the term collective worship.
SACRE recognises that schools need to clearly differentiate between corporate worship and collective worship.
Corporate worship takes place within a faith community context e.g. in Churches, Gurdwaras, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples. Corporate worship implies a community with a shared set of beliefs and values. For most faith communities worship is concerned with reverence or veneration paid to a divine being or power. Few schools can expect that all their members will subscribe to a set of beliefs which enable the entire school community as such to constitute a worshipping community.
School collective worship should recognise that the school community is a collection of people. Thus, acts of collective worship should be sensitive to the collective character of individual schools and to be inclusive the term must be interpreted in a way which is meaningful to the range of communities it serves. The school community will usually include people from a variety of cultural and faith, and non-faith backgrounds.
Therefore, the term "collective" when used in relation to worship in schools refers to the gathering together of a school group or groups for worship; it does not in any way suggest an act of worship which involves a group meeting to subscribe to any particular faith or denomination of a faith.
Collective worship does not pre-suppose shared beliefs, and should not seek uniform responses from pupils. Collective worship caters for a diversity of beliefs and points of view, allowing individuals to respond as individuals. A broad definition which has been referred to as worth-ship, might encompass what is offered in a spirit of admiration, celebration and respect to people of excellence, worthy of honour and, by extension, to concepts, principles and conduct which are worthy of celebration as examples of the highest achievements of the human spirit. Worship thus defined draws on literature, music, drama, art and other sources of inspiration. It can provide a focus for thought, inspiration and reflection for pupils (and staff) whose religious and cultural backgrounds are of any faith or none.
- Collective worship and religious education (RE)
Collective worship and RE are separate areas of school life. The legal requirements for RE and collective worship are distinct and should not be confused. Schools should have separate policies for RE and collective worship. Schools should not assume that the RE coordinator is responsible for collective worship; this should be a matter of negotiation. The only part of the law which is similar for both areas is that of withdrawal.
All other areas including time, the Christian character of collective worship and determinations DO NOT apply to RE.
Nevertheless, there may be opportunities for children to use their RE work in collective worship or for collective worship to reinforce the learning taking place in RE eg at times of religious festivals.
- Collective worship and assembly
Collective worship and assembly are distinct activities, although they may take place as part of the same gathering. Collective worship is a special time for pupils to reflect upon life experiences and ultimate questions and, if appropriate, focus on God. It should allow the pupils to be able to make a spiritual response. A model combining the ‘assembly’ and ‘collective worship’ aspects can be found in section seven (check this is correct at end of process before publication). An assembly is a gathering of part or all of the school. It is concerned with administrative matters and other announcements about school life. Schools often gather for achievement assemblies, singing assemblies and curriculum assemblies. These can be made into an act of collective worship through the addition of an opportunity for reflection or prayer at the end of these times. Without it they stay as an assembly.
- Collective worship and fundamental British values
Collective worship makes an important contribution to developing pupils’ understanding of fundamental British values as defined by Ofsted. Effective SMSC development can support pupils in better understanding and applying these fundamental British values.
- Are children asked children to pray?
Children do not have to be asked to pray, but they must have the opportunity to reflect and respond to God if appropriate for them. The issues concerning prayer are often to do with language. Children should not be asked to pray to their God as they may not have one, and the act of worship should be fully inclusive.
At WAPS our Collective Worship takes place daily in the form of assemblies, reflection times or circle times in class.
Topics range from current affairs, values, local and national festivals, charities or reflections on Art, music, short stories etc. There may be whole school themes or individual classes and year groups may focus on specific topics. Often a candle is lit to create an atmosphere for reflection at the end.