A pattern of worship at the heart of the school
Worship, in all its forms, is at the heart of our school life.
Our school community engages in a variety of acts of worship each week. This pattern of worship enables the school community to experience and explore praise, worship, stillness, reflection, awe and prayerfulness. This mix enables all our community to engage with worship in ways that each person will find invitational and inspiring. School life is underpinned by a cycle of prayer daily. This includes prayer at lunch and at the end of day.
Mass is celebrated in school every week and twice a term at either one of our local parish churches. The two local parish priests take this service alternately. The responses are varied and sung and often taken from worship songs the children are familiar with and have been taught about. Children prepare the Bible reading and write the intercessory prayers for these services. This service enables children to experience a worship space led by our local Anglican priests, who guide them through the Eucharist and orient the life of the school around Jesus’s sacrifice. Children are still and reverential during the Eucharistic prayer and sharing of Holy Communion. The attentiveness during the talk and the depth of the children’s prayers evidences the extent of their reflection, prayer, stillness and worship during this celebration.
Sung worship is at the centre of our school life. Songs of Praise (SOP) is held weekly. Children experience a variety of styles of worship music. They are taught hymns, modern worship, secular songs that can be sung as worship and also songs written specifically by our music teacher. These songs reflect the wide range of church denominations in our community. Children say they enjoy singing songs from their churches at school too.
Class worship takes place at least once a week in every class. Teachers use this opportunity to engage with big questions, items in the news at a national and global level. There is an opportunity to question, reflect, engage with their class reflection corner. Children have the opportunity to lead class worship. Classes have reflection books in which they capture the children’s thoughts, reflections and prayers.
That pattern extends beyond our regular rhythm and incorporates the church calendar. We observe seasons such as Lent and Advent.
Assemblies at John Keble reflect the Anglican calendar, the school’s vision and our Christian values. We link assemblies to our school themes to create innovative ways to explore the person of Jesus. We block our assembly teaching, and plan from Christian themes and Bible books. (e.g. a series of assemblies/ teaching around the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer over 6 weeks). Other examples are a link to the school theme ‘Wild at Heart’, we looked at the character of Aslan and explored, “Is Jesus wild or tame?”. During our ‘Superpowers’, we explored whether Jesus was a superhero, to highlight his divinity and humanity. Prayer in assembly is varied. It can be led by an adult, by children or done in pairs. The style of prayer is varied too. We have close links with many local Harlesden churches who take assemblies too. The Trinitarian nature of God is carefully woven through all aspects of our worship and teaching meaning children can draw on and describe the presence of God in different ways.
Fostering personal faith
Children have the chance to be prepared for their First Holy Communion at school. The classes take place at lunchtime and the service takes place at one of our Parish Churches on a Sunday. Members of SLT attend the service to support the children.
YWAM partners with us to run a Faith Club on Friday lunchtimes. Children can explore their faith in this club and develop greater ownership of their relationship with Jesus (with parental permission). A bible study group takes place after school once a week too. Children enjoy this and willingly attend during their lunchtime.
Our JLT has worship leaders. These children meet with the Spiritual Life of the school faculty and stakeholders to input into the direction of worship. These children are directly involved in worship alongside others.
Regular Prayer Spaces have been held at school for the last three years. We also have interactive zones around the school. Prayer Spaces provides a termly opportunity to use the school chapel to explore a variety of prayer tools. There is an emphasis on learning to pray and students learn that there is no one ‘right way’ to pray. Local churches and parents support prayer spaces by setting up the space and running a station. Children eagerly engage in the variety of prayer tools and are enthusiastic in their engagement. 100% of children choose to come, despite the space being optional. They often ask to visit again. The space stays open at lunchtimes following the event. The student worship leaders (JLT) help support these spaces. Here is the link to the LDBS website, where there is an article about our space.
The children and adults at school attend corporate services, e.g. Remembrance Sunday, LDBS celebration at St Paul’s Cathedral, Proms Praise as well as specific events in our community. This demonstrates to children that they are part of the wider church.
Accessible to those of all faiths and none
All the children choose to take part in worship with many children writing the prayers for our weekly mass. We verbally welcome and acknowledge those of other faiths, so they are encouraged to take on the values being taught, while allowing them the space to reflect on the experience and what it means to them.