Children in All Saints' Church Ripley standing at the alter with Harvest Festival offerings

As a Church school our worship life is central to our identity. It extends beyond Collective Worship (‘assemblies’), into our classrooms, and playgrounds. In a moment of wonder, we might stop to pause for a prayer of thanks; in the midst of a squabble, we might pause for reflection, and reconciliation. Our staff have a time of prayer or reflection together at the beginning and end of every week, and our local vicar is a regular face in school. Throughout school you will find spaces set aside to encourage prayer in creative ways. Worship is not so much something we do, as a part of what we are.

Whilst we value faith and worship, however, we also recognise that not everyone shares the same beliefs. We consider that diversity, amongst staff, pupils, governors and parents, to be a blessing. It enriches our life together as a community, and provides opportunities to understand difference, and grow in capacity for respect and debate. Any act of worship is therefore always invitational – whether spontaneous or planned – and offers opportunity not compulsion for those involved to grow spiritually.

It follows from this that any act of worship should therefore also be inclusive. By which we mean that anyone who chooses to engage should be enabled to do so. For us this means we worship in a variety of styles and ways – through music, through silence, through reading, through writing, through drawing, through making, through shouting, and whispering… This rich tapestry opens our opportunities to all.

For us, an important facet of that inclusivity is that our worship is not only led by our staff team, but also resourced by our Worship Committee. These are a group of volunteer students who work with the staff, and local vicar to oversee the worship pattern in sympathy with the liturgical calendar of the Church of England, school themes, and current events. The committee also regularly plan and deliver worship themselves.

Our worship together in school should always be inspirational – we don’t want these precious opportunities to be wasted! We believe that it should never be possible to walk away from an encounter with the divine unchanged. Sometimes that change can be massive (a whole new attitude nor way of life), sometimes it can be very small (a fresh understanding of a single fact, or a question to ponder), but it is always beautiful and for the good. Worship in our school is what energises us, and propels us forward, in response to the love of God, to make this world the place it should be, and to take our place within it as the people God creates us to be.

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