Life as a Church School
Our School's Christian Vision:
Our vision is for every adult and child to flourish academically and spiritually becoming courageous advocates in our community through our Christian values of compassion, honesty, integrity and awe
All things are possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23)
Our school prides itself on its distinctive Christian and spiritual values that underpin everything that we do in school. The teachings of Jesus help guide us and provide a rationale in the decisions we make. To help us achieve this, we work closely with the clergy from St John's The Baptist Church in Knaresborough and our foundation governors. We hold regular church/school meetings to receive the support and challenge in maintaining and strengthening the Christian and spiritual journey for our children, their families and our staff. On this page, you will find some of the key information that underpins our school's values, ethos and vision.
Statement on Religious Education in school
In Elevate schools, high quality RE is provided for all pupils, which is inclusive and broad minded.
Parents do have the right to withdraw pupils from RE lessons, or any part of the RE curriculum: if you wish to do this, please make an appointment with the RE subject leader in school. Elevate does not support selective withdrawal from RE. Our schools have a duty to supervise pupils withdrawn from RE, though not to provide additional teaching or to incur extra cost. Where the pupil has been withdrawn, alternative arrangements will be made for RE of the kind the parents/guardians want the pupil to receive. These arrangements will be made by the parents/guardians;- the school is not expected to make these arrangements. This RE could be provided at the school in question, or by another school in the locality. If neither approach is practicable, the pupil may receive external RE teaching as long as the withdrawal does not significantly impact on the child’s attendance.
Opportunities for Collective Worship
Although we are a Church of England School, we welcome families associated with other churches, from other major world faiths or of no faith at all. Collective Worship recognises the collective nature of beliefs and opinions of those present. Worship should be offered in such a way that all those present, regardless of faith or worldview stance, can feel comfortable and welcome, not expected, to participate in the experience being offered. Collective Worship does not pre-suppose shared beliefs as we embrace a diversity of beliefs and points of view. We value the close links with our local church, The Church of St John the Baptist, ensuring that clergy are part of our worship team, delivering Collective Worship that primarily explores the relevance of the Anglican tradition in today’s society.
Organisation of Collective Worship
- An act of worship is held everyday. This can be whole school, a set of classes or one class and may take place in the school hall, at The Church of St John the Baptist or in a Worship may be led by senior leaders, visitors, clergy, teachers or children.
- Worship is specifically Christian and in line with the principles of the Church of Prayers may be said at other times of the day such as before lunch is eaten.
- We conduct Collective Worship in a dignified and respectful We regard it as a special time, and expect children to behave in an appropriate way. Children are encouraged to participate fully in prayers, activities, songs and hymns. We create an appropriate atmosphere by using music and meaningful objects to focus the attention of the children.
- Collective Worship takes place in a variety of groupings in the school hall, classrooms and on occasions
- We follow the seasons of the Church year and within this significant festivals and other special days are observed. These always include Harvest, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Easter and Pentecost and key events such as Christingle occur annually.
- Acts of Collective Worship will incorporate stories and teachings from the Bible as an aid to reflection and deeper understanding of human experience.
- Whenever worship takes place it is planned to promote thinking beyond the time given to worship
- Collective Worship is planned around our Christian vision and values and these are explored through a variety of activities and response tasks that help children deepen their understanding of how to aspire, flourish and love. Values are shared with parents and the wider community and are explicitly referenced within aspects of the wider curriculum.
- Children will be given space and time to reflect personally and may be invited to share as individuals or as a class through reflection.
Spirituality at Knaresborough St John's Church of England Primary School
Spirituality is like a bird: if you hold it too tightly, it chokes; it you hold it too loosely, it flies away.
(Israel Salanter Lipkin , 2007)
At Knaresborough St John’s CE Primary School we believe that spirituality is about an awareness that there is something other, something greater than everyday life, often expressed through our own experiences, religious beliefs and practices. Spirituality should influence all areas of education and life. All areas of the school life may contribute to pupils’ spiritual development. Spiritual development relates to the big questions about the meaning and purpose of life which affect everyone. Spiritual development should define and influence all areas of education and life. It concerns engaging the innermost essence of each individual to grow and flourish in order to become the best versions of ourselves we can be. We should be encouraged and enabled to reflect inwardly, to reflect on the world around us, and to look beyond at the transcendent which includes reflecting on God, life and faith.
At Knaresborough St John’s CE Primary School we provide children with opportunities for spiritual development through the concept of ‘Windows, Mirrors and Doors’
Giving children opportunities to become aware of the world in new ways; to wonder about life’s ‘WOWs’ (things that are amazing) and ‘OWs’ (things that bring us up short). Through this, children are learning about life in all its fullness.
We believe this approach links with our Christian value of Awe
Giving children opportunities to reflect on their experiences; to think about life’s big questions and to consider some possible answers. In this they are learning from life by exploring their own insights and perspectives and those of others.
We believe this approach links with our Christian value of Integrity and Honesty.
Giving children opportunities to respond to all of this; to do something creative as a means of expressing, applying and further developing their thoughts and convictions. In this they are learning to live by putting into action what they are coming to believe and value.
We believe this approach links with our Christian value of Compassion.
This will also mean dealing with some of the difficult, contentious and messy aspects of human life and experience – not all that is spiritual is good or to be encouraged, but these do need to be acknowledged and addressed appropriately.
Compassion – empathy and relationship with others, feeling and responding in action
Honesty – being able to see where we have not been the best version of ourselves, and doing something about it.
Integrity – relationship with self and with God, encompassing all of our values, and acting on those regardless of whether others can see or not.
Awe – reflecting on and valuing the wonders of the world around us.
In our school, One of the many ways we come to understand this is by reflecting on Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, learning through this the meaning behind the acronym CHIA. Clearly, Jesus demonstrated compassion, understanding the human need in those around him for rest and food, then providing those (the action side of compassion) from available resources.
The little boy who had the five loaves and two fishes chose to be honest as he offered his lunch to the disciples; he could easily have shared with only a few or concealed what he had to keep for himself. The disciples displayed integrity as they took the food to Jesus – the man they were following who was, at the same time, in unity with God and reflected the nature of God. The miracle itself came from a position of thankfulness, as Jesus thanked God for His provision. The people around were in awe of what had taken place, celebrating individually and in community the richness of God’s blessing. It is significant that the event took place outdoors and that the food (fish and barley) were produce of the Earth and sea, the care of which was entrusted to humankind by God.
It is important to us that all adults in school, and in our wider school family, see the need to develop their own spirituality so that together we can effectively encourage and support the children, and each other, in our spiritual journeys.
How we aim to develop a strong sense of spirituality?
As a school, we are aware that spirituality can be accessed in a variety of ways. To ensure that we provide a wide and varied spectrum of pathways for our children and adults, we used Gary Thomas’ Nine Spiritual Temperaments to identify our strengths and development areas. Children’s and adults' spiritual development is nurtured through all aspects of our provision. It is about the relationships and the values that we consider to be important, as well as the development of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes. We give everyone opportunities to:
- Have regular times in the day for quiet and reflection. This might be listening to a story, lighting a candle, reflecting on a spiritual theme.
- Provide many opportunities for creativity and using the imagination
- Valuing play opportunities, particularly outdoors.
- Singing often, especially with others.
- Have regular time for prayer. This can take many forms, but should include being thankful, saying sorry and acknowledging forgiveness.
- Open themselves to God, experiencing spirituality as they are able.
- Provide frequent opportunities for children to explore, express and share feelings. We use the SEAL structure to support this across the school.
- Constantly reaffirm the importance of relationships. How we talk to and relate with each other is fundamental.
- Provide opportunities to express awe and wonder, appreciate beauty in all its forms, and appreciate the connections and unity in the world
- Encourage each other to admit mistakes and to say sorry. Recognising and owning up to faults is an important healing and redemptive process.
- Encourage children to show kindness, caring and compassion, and to express these in practical ways. (eg: how we treat each other every day; charitable works; looking after pets)
- Explore the ‘Big Questions’ – particularly through our RE programme and during Collective Worship
- Read often (and be read to), and give them opportunities to discuss and reflect. This includes both secular and religious texts, in particular the Bible.
- Experience the awe and wonder of the natural world, through observation and hands-on experience e,g, planting and nurturing seeds, and harvesting produce.
Structures to support and develop spirituality
- Opportunities for personal growth are planned right across our curriculum.
- We have a planned programme for Collective Worship across the school. This maps out themes across the year, based on our school values and ‘Values for Life’.
- School Collective Worship is interactive and stimulating, and is regularly led by members of the Collective Worship team. Teaching is Bible-based, with appropriate application points.
- We have a prophetic dance team which enhances spiritual understanding through interpretation of worship music.
- There is a daily act of collective worship taking different forms and often child-led.
- Our Collective Worship reflection journals are used regularly as a focal point for reflection, and include RE and PSHE.
- The half-termly IMAGINOR activities foster continuity of spiritual development between school and home.
- Displays and pictures around the school continually celebrate and encourage reflection and spirituality.
- The ‘prayer walk’ provides opportunity for reflection on personal, local and global issues, with space for response and questions.
- Our RE curriculum is inspiring and motivating, encouraging personal reflection on spiritual topics and questions of faith
- Visits, visitors and hands-on experience support all our work
- Each term, we have Sanctuary Weeks in which children are encouraged to engage with and personally respond to interact with Christian spiritual themes.
- A weekly drama group helps children explore spiritual themes in an expressive way.
- We hold café-church style events to which all members of our school family are welcome. These take place after school to maximise opportunity.
- Participation in the Archbishop of York’s Young Leaders award, affords opportunity for children to practically engage with and give service to the community.
Impact: how do we know this is being effective?
The school’s Foundation Governors have a key role in evaluating, reviewing and monitoring the impact of the Spiritual Development Audit. They regularly walk around the school, talking with children and adults, and assessing for themselves how all members of the school community have their spiritual needs met and developed. Their findings are reported to all governors, to the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team, and to all school staff.
The Foundation Governors check statutory requirements are satisfied, but also judge the school’s effectiveness by against the following judgement statements:
Spiritually developed children and adults love and accept themselves and enjoy good relationships with each other. They grow in their sense of self through reflecting on their personal values, beliefs, experiences, strengths and weaknesses. They are confident to explore and ask questions about the values and beliefs of others, and develop respect for these.
Spiritually developed children and adults take an interest in and delight in the world around them, and are open to what lies beyond the material (which may manifest itself in faith/belief in God). They are able to express and understand feelings; they have a strong moral sense and a love of what is good and just. They are able to enjoy quiet and stillness. They possess active imaginations, and can use these creatively in all aspects of their learning, showing joy in creativity and the discovery of new skills.
Spiritually developed children and adults take delight in aspiring to be the best versions of themselves they can be, experiencing and enjoying life in all its fullness: “ I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” (John 10 verse 10)
Our Worship and links with our local church
Collective worship is central to the life of our school. All children are involved in developing worship and our Collective Worship Team from across the school act as role models in exploring their faith and spirituality. These children lead worship in school through the telling of bible stories, drama and signing. They also lead worship in St John's Church throughout the year. We try to involve the children wherever we can in asking the big questions regarding the world around them and their part in it. At each act of collective worship a child lights the candle and reads the candle prayer to start our special time together. The colour of the cloth changes on the worship table to reflect the different church seasons.
Reverend Garry Hinchcliffe visits us regularly to lead worship in school, and the children also attend services at St John's Church at special times during the year. The children help to organise and lead these services.
Specific services led and attended by the children (at school and at church) include:
- Harvest festival – Held in church for Years 1 to 6. EYFS hold their Harvest Festival in school. Parents are invited to this service.
- Remembrance service – Held in school and attended by all year groups
- Nativity performance – EYFS and KS1 perform their nativity performances to parents in school
- Christmas service – Led by KS2 at St John's Church with KS1 watching. Parents are invited to this service.
- Advent service - Held in school and attended by all year groups. Parents are invited to this service.
- Easter service – Held in church for all year groups. Parents are invited to this service.
- Leavers service - Held at Ripon Cathedral and attended by Yr6 children
Children also enjoy visits to the church to explore their learning in both Religious Education, the wider curriculum and through our Sanctuary Week.
Our Collective Prayer Time
Our school is very proud of our collective prayer time and we say them together as part of our worship. We start our worship with an invitation to all adults and children to join our Candle Prayer. When praying, we also light a candle to highlight the start of our worship together and also to represent Jesus as the light of the world. We close worship with our school prayer. The word highlighted in red changes with each half term as it links to the Christian value that we are focused on as a whole school community.
Our Candle Prayer
As we light this candle,
we pray for all the members of our school and church community.
We ask that you guide us all through the day and keep us safe.
Our School Prayer
This is our school, let courage dwell here.
Let the room be full of contentment.
Let love abide here.
Love of one another, love of mankind,
Love of life itself and love of God.
Let us remember that as many hands build a house,
So, many hearts make a school.
One of the ways that we have shared the Christian values of our school with parents and carers is through using our Home School Values resource. The value that is shared at home reflects the focus for our worship in school over that half term. Further information on this can be found by clicking here.
School Policies and Guidance
- Collective Worship Policy
- Religious Education Policy
- Spirituality Audit of Knaresborough St John's CE Primary School
- Valuing All God's Children - Church of England Document
- Knaresborough St John's CE Primary School SIAMS Inspection Report
The Parish Vision and Mission Statements
The Church of England in the Parish of Knaresborough aims to present the Christian Gospel in such a way that it may be known and joyfully experienced by all people.
If you would like to find out some more information about our parish Churches then please follow the link below where you will be able to access information on;
- St John the Baptist’s Church, Knaresborough
- Holy Trinity, Knaresborough
- St Mary’s the Virgin, Goldsborough
- St John the Baptist’s Church, Brearton
- St Paul and St Margaret's Church, Nidd