Act of Collective Worship
Information about Bordesley Green Girls School and Sixth Form and the Act of Collective Worship
I was very concerned to see that our school has been linked to the “Trojan Horse” story in the Birmingham Mail. I am a new Head teacher who was appointed to start work here in September 2013 and was appointed by very supportive Governors.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the background to our “Act of collective worship” which was incidentally observed during our recent OFSTED inspection in Feb 2014 when we were rated “outstanding “. The inspectors were highly complementary about both the students‘ academic but also personal achievements. This is because we are a very “outward facing” school which maximises opportunities for students to learn about different cultures and faiths. Indeed last week we welcomed staff and students from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, France and Turkey who were with us as part of an international project.
- “The school provides an exceptionally high quality of education for its students. Students make outstanding progress in their academic and personal achievement.”
- “Students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is very effectively promoted by a very broad range of arts, drama, music and sports activities, as well as by visits to other places in this country. Year on year, students have raised a considerable sum of money in order to help Children in need
I would like to clarify the position on our act of collective worship.
The law requires that daily collective worship in school should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. This is appropriate for most schools across the country. The determination procedure however allow the requirement to be lifted in respect of all of the pupils in a school where it is inappropriate. In making a determination, SACRE(Standing Advisory council for Religious Education ) has to have regard to any circumstances relating to the faith backgrounds of the pupils which are relevant for deciding what character of collective worship is appropriate. “Education Reform Act 1988.
As we are a school with a large percentage of Muslim students, it was decided that the act of worship should reflect this.
There are several different types of determination that Bordesley Green Girls School could have considered:
Full determination: that means the act of collective worship would reflect the faith background of our pupils.
Full determination for Islamic Worship this means that the act of collective worship would be Islamic
Part determination: this means having different Act of collective worships for different faiths
Following consultation with staff, parents and governors it was agreed to apply for the Full determination which would enable the act of worship to be “broadly Islamic”. This has since been renewed in July 2013.
This is what happens on a daily basis;
The act of collective worship lasts for 5 minutes every day and is broadcast to classrooms via a tannoy system.
Reflective music is played to indicate that the Act of Collective Worship is beginning.
The Head introduces the Act of Worship
A speaker either a member of staff or student delivers a prepared contribution on the theme of the week. The theme this week is “Spring” for example. The contribution is seen by the Head teacher in advance and can also be projected on classroom boards for students who have hearing problems. These contributions can be poems, prose, news items and reflections on life that link to the theme. It is very much like the “Thought for the day 2 item on Radio 4. Throughout the year some of the themes also link to the understanding of religious festivals and events such as Christmas, Easter and Diwali.
Once this section is completed a Muslim member of staff reads an extract from the Quran and then translates it into English. This section is also linked to the theme. For example a reading this week was about “birds” and linked into our Spring theme.
Then the Head asks for a moment for reflection when everyone reflects in silence while music is played.
The whole school determination for a “broadly Islamic” Act of Collective Worship promotes recognition of the faith of the majority of students while according recognition to other faiths. The following indicate our approach to promoting equality and social cohesion.
- Our calendar of weekly themes build in key dates from world faiths
- Published material includes a commitment of respect for all beliefs
- Participants are encouraged to preface personal views with “As a (Buddhist) I believe …and place view in context
- A concluding comment which focuses reflection
- Monitoring occurs via staff team and governors‘ meeting . Records of All Act of Collective Worship are kept.
Here are comments gathered from our governors about the Act of collective worship when it was about to be renewed in 2013
“The determination has worked well and been praised by inspectors so it makes sense to continue it “
“The predominantly broadly Islamic determination seems to work very well. Parents appear happy that their daughters have an Islamic reading each day and seem to be in favour of the way a similar or contrasting supportive viewpoint is made by other contributors. Staff members (and OFSTED) largely approve of the way that an Islamic reading (reflecting the faith background of most of our students), is alongside a more general thought, from an Islamic, other faith or not faith viewpoint.”
“It is very important to recognise and value the Islamic background of the majority of our students. However, at the same time I believe that we must educate and encourage understanding and respect for the religious beliefs and views of others. A broadly Islamic determination does that. “
You will see the programme and topics for our Act of Worship on our school website in our newsletters.
As head teacher here I am delighted to be part of a process that adds so much to the social, moral, spiritual, cultural and leadership development of our students and staff.
Bordesley Green Girls School