Those Present for infant and Junior chat: Tricia Opalko, Julia Evans and Fr Liam
Discussion Topic: The Catholic life of the school
Infant discussion (Years 1 and 2)
What is Collective Worship?
The children gave various answers. For example, “We come together in a circle and pray to God”, “We spend time talking to God” and “The teacher lights a candle to invite God into the room”. The children were asked if they enjoyed collective worship. All said yes, some gave a reason: “Yes, because you can get closer to God” and “Yes because we have a prayer book and I like writing in it”.
Tell us about RE.
Most of the children chatted confidently to the governors about what they were doing in RE at the moment. Examples are, “We are learning about Jonah and the whale and Noah’s Ark and we have been rewriting the stories”, “I have learnt about the ten commandments” and “I like RE because I like listening to the stories and learning new stories”. We asked the children how it makes us a better person learning about stories such as Jonah. The children answered: “He was running away from God and it teaches us that we should not run away from God”. They also commented about their learning on the Noah’s ArK stories; “Don’t follow the bad people”, “Always try to be good” and “It is important to look after God’s animals”.
Do you write in RE?
Both year 1 and 2 children told us that they did lots of writing in their books in RE lessons. Some examples were: “We wrote the story about Jonah and Noah in our books” and “I find writing the stories easy”.
What do we do on Sunday?
“We sing songs in church” and “Sometimes I go to children’s liturgy” were some of the responses.
Do you pray at home?
One child told us they had prayed with the family when their grandma died. Another told us they prayed for their cats.
What is church good for?
For children so young, the governors were impressed with their answers. Some of the responses were: “To pray for people”, “So we can all get together with God” and “To get closer to God”.
What is the mission statement?*
Some children pointed to the statement in the staff room (where the pupil chat is held). The children talked about the mission statement and told us “He is always with us. He is always by our side” and “He helps us with our learning and everything we do”.
*For information the school’s mission statement is “God is at the centre of everything we do”.
Junior discussion (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6)
What is Collective Worship?
The children told us that it last about 10-15 minutes and is twice a week in class. Some comments were; “It is whole class quiet time” and “It is reflective time”.
Would you miss CW if you didn’t have it?
All the children said they would miss it. The children seemed to value the calm time. The children told us, “I would miss it because it is a nice time to reflect”; “I like it because I have time to stop and think”; “I like the chance to pray together” and “It’s the one time you sit together as a class, be calm, talk to God and reflect”.
The children talked about the prayer tables in their classrooms and we asked them what symbols they had on the table. They told us that the table was moved to the front of the class for collective worship so it could be a focal point during the session. Most had candles that were lit during CW. Some talked to us about a book that helped with reflection and also some teachers use meditation music to help the children calm down before the session started and also during the session when they closed their eyes during reflection time.
Who leads CW?
Almost all the children had prepared for CW at one time or another. They told us they had been given a planning sheet and had help from the teacher. A year 6 child told us that they had read the scripture for a recent CW session. In addition, the year 6 children told us that when they were in year 5 they had been given a challenge to prepare CW in small groups from scratch and had to choose a scripture themselves. They said they had found it hard but had enjoyed it.
What is the reason for CW?
The children gave the following responses; “To reflect and talk to God”; “To get closer to God”, “Quiet time to chat to God” and “To ask for forgiveness”.
Many of the children told the governors that they prayed at home with various members of the family.
Tell us about RE.
“It stands for religious education”. The children told us that they learn about God and how it can relate to their daily lives. They said they learn how they should act in day to day life. The children also explained how they learnt about other religions and one said beautifully, “We learn how to respect other religions”. Other children went on to explain further how they had visited a gurdwara and a mosque. At this point another child told us that they had been learning about the Jewish faith. One child said “We are all human but have different faiths”.
Other comments about their RE lessons were; “We learn to be more like Jesus”; “We learn about Bible stories”; “We recently learnt about St Matthew who was a tax collector and Jesus came to him and he changed”.
The children told us they had been learning about euthanasia and had found scripture references relating to it. In addition, the year 6 had been learning about Cain and Abel. They said that they had learnt to always give their best and not to give in to jealousy.
Just before the children left we had a quick discussion about church. Fr Liam asked them what should they do to prepare for mass. Some of the comments were; “Don’t eat an hour before”, “Make the sign of the cross” and “Bless myself with the holy water when I come into church”.
We are grateful to all the children who were happy to give the time to talk to the governors so enthusiastically and with confidence and honesty.