Collective worship at St Aidan’s takes several different forms but is integral to the daily experience of all pupils.
At Key Stages 3 and 4, pupils attend a formal year group assembly twice weekly where a team of staff and pupils lead a song, prayers and a short reflection. This may be based on the week’s theme set out by the Chaplain in Thoughts for the Day or drawn from topical news events, the school calendar or church year. At Key Stage 5, students meet as a year group once a week and in smaller tutorial groups for discussion and reflection. In assembly, pupils are encouraged to celebrate each other’s achievements, to reflect on personal values and responsibilities and to develop their understanding of Christian teachings and beliefs.
All year groups follow a programme of Thoughts for the Day in form periods. Discussion questions, photographs, inspirational quotations, quizzes, anecdotes and related video clips are used to stimulate class reflection on the week’s theme. These topics are increasingly diverse, addressing subjects of local, national or global significance, beliefs and practices of different faiths as well as key events in the Christian calendar.
All pupils are invited to attend services of Holy Communion at least once each term. These services in the Chapel are led by a team of clergy from across the local area supported by the lay chaplain.
The school community comes together several times a year to celebrate major Christian festivals including Harvest and Christmas. The Harvest Festival, Christingle Service, Carol Service and Celebration of Commitment to the Christian Faith are annual celebrations to which families and friends of St Aidan’s pupils and staff are always warmly invited. In addition we mark the start of Lent, Maundy Thursday (where it occurs during the school term) and the beginning and end of the school year with staff and student Eucharist.
Members of our Associated Sixth Form meet together for three ecumenical services each year: at Christmas, Easter and on the last day of Year 13. Students and staff from both St Aidan’s and St John Fisher plan and contribute to the leading of these events which are, therefore, intended also as a celebration of our commitment to interdenominational partnership.
Rock Solid is a lunch time club for children in Years 7 and 8 (supported by pupils in older year groups) who are interested in sharing and finding out more about the Christian faith. Led by youth workers from local churches and the lay chaplain, Rock Solid exists to provide a fun, safe place to discuss and ask big questions. There are always whacky games to play, sweets to eat and fun to be had as well as time for thoughtful reflection and consideration of our place in God’s big story.
Christian Union is a lunch time group for Years 11 to 13. Led largely by members of the sixth form aided by local youth workers and the school chaplain, it offers support and encouragement for Christian students and for those interested in finding out more about the Christian faith. Students eat, worship and pray together as well as discussing some of life’s big questions in a faith context.
At the end of September pupils in Years 8-13 are invited to join us for the Chapel Away Weekend. This residential retreat to Marrick Priory in the Yorkshire Dales runs from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and offers a programme of team games, prayer, worship and personal reflection as well as outdoor pursuits such as canoeing, night walking, climbing and the infamous leap of faith. The popularity of the trip is evidenced in the fact many pupils attending have come along year on year but there’s always room for more!