This week, I would like to write to tell you about some exciting Tuesday morning service assembly developments. We have spent this half term discussing what God says we are.
Led by Dr Evans and supported by tutors, the children take twenty minutes in their week to learn more about the act of prayer and how this can help in every day life. This is not preaching or indoctrination. This is ensuring all pupils have a space where they can think about their own beliefs and personal spirituality. It uses spirituality to channel communication. Such topics are often shied away from, ignored and side-lined. Religions have become viewed as ‘out of fashion’ and, as a result, the vital study of religion and philosophy (and, indeed, subjects encompassed under the Humanities umbrella), do not get the attention they deserve. Somewhere along the line, we became uncomfortable and awkward to discuss faith. We recognised this and so revamped our assembly programme back in September 2019. We have adopted a more progressive approach to assemblies by exploring religious service, sensing spirituality, musical connectedness, whilst also raising the profile of the pupils future aspirations, with a programme of guest speakers. It was hailed as a huge success and really added value to the community togetherness.
We watch the whole school community gel every new academic year; there is much laughter and celebration of each other’s achievements. The assemblies allow us to thank our lucky stars to be who we are and where we are. Covid put a complete halt on these special, joyous occasions. Our meetings of the mind have had to reduce to the meeting of our bubble! We are missing our mass gatherings greatly. But, where there is a will there’s a way!
All of our assemblies are special; but, we, as a staff team, honestly felt and still believe that it is the Service and Spirituality assembly to which the children should still have access. We believe that, in this current climate, if we can let just one child know that they can talk to their God endlessly, this is a result. If this offers them some comfort, then we have helped as they have gained another outlet and strategy for helping them with their fears, hopes, wants, needs and innermost thoughts.
The pupils really impressed our inspectors with their understanding of spirituality and their ability to communicate about their faiths and beliefs. They reported that…
Here is a link to Dr Evans’ service assembly from this week’s service.
YouTube link for video in case it doesn’t play:
The assembly was just for Year 3 – 8 pupils. Each child has been given a New Testament for their forthcoming years. The assembly comes with a helpful explanation of how to use the Bible.
Well, just have a look at the photos.
Staff have witnessed:
- Pupils choosing to read their Bibles daily.
- Conversation between peers of great philosophical nature.
- Shared thoughts.
- Suggested and recommended reading for friends.
- Questions and deep curiosity for the Bible and its story, history and philosophy.
Dr Evans explains how this development came about…
“At St Peter’s, we have always been fortunate to have the Gideon’s visit once a year to present the Year 8s with their own New Testament. This year, with the restrictions of not being able to have anyone on the school site, they got in contact to see if they could send us some New Testaments, instead. As I feel that giving children the opportunity to explore aspects of faith for themselves is really important, I asked if, instead of sending us 20, they could send 200! Amazingly they were very happy to and so now every child (and teacher) in Years 3 to 8 has their own copy. You might have already seen your child with one! We will be using these New Testaments in our Tuesday Assemblies so that they can follow along with me as I talk to them. I thought the children would enjoy having their own New Testament but, as Mrs Ball has already said, I have been just amazed with the curiosity and excitement the children have shown – they are loving these little red books!”
A global pandemic really is revealing many opportunities for St Peter’s Preparatory School to explore different areas of learning, which we have always wanted to cover in depth, but have never quite found the time to roll out across the school as fully as we had wanted.
From darkness there comes light, I believe.
Deputy Head Teaching and Learning.