Guiding principles for Church of England schools in The First Federation Trust
The following information outlines the guidelines for church schools so that they can demonstrate their ethos and Christian distinctiveness. These are the foundations and expectations that we expect as a minimum. Schools may add to these. These were agreed between the FFT Ethos leaders, representing all of the schools within the Trust.
N.B Our non-church schools also have ethos leaders who attend the FFT Ethos group (meetings take place half termly). They are invited to take part in any training that is provided. They have engaged with the discussions around each of the principles below and will decide, at a school level, how they choose to adapt the principles to meet their context.
Ethos committees in schools
- Includes the local vicar, church or community representation, the Head of Teaching and Learning and/or the Ethos Lead for the school.
- Meetings should take place termly
- Agendas and discussions should involve mapping out the collective worship for the term and where the Church can lead on key themes and festivals, links between the Church, school and community, and how the Christian ethos is promoted in the school.
- Pupil voice should be heard at these meetings
- Minutes of the meeting are to be sent to the Hub Board (via the Hub clerk) and uploaded as a pdf to the school's website.
- Ethos committees could include parent representation which could include parents who worship at church.
- A simple template will be provided to record the main points of these meetings on.
Children's ethos groups
- Children will be in Key Stage 2- smaller schools may need to include Year 2 children, where appropriate. If including KS1 children, they may be called Ethos Champions.
- Children will role model the expectations for the rest of the school and be at the forefront of collective worship when the focus is on the school's values.
- There will be a lead teacher or member of the clergy who works with the children.
- Notes from these meetings will be recorded on headed paper as bullet points.
- The group should contain a minimum of 4 children
- The ethos children's group will lead one collective worship in school, per term.
- The group will support the Head of Teaching and Learning and Ethos lead in the school.
- Meetings will be held on a half termly basis.
• There should be an act of collective worship every day, to which every child within the school must be invited to attend (whole school, Key Stage, or in the classroom)
• The leader should try to create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere conducive to worship by, for example:
- Playing worship or quiet reflective music on arrival
- Or displaying an image, quote or question to engage the children in the theme - Setting the hall up with a table as a focus for worship including a cross and candle
• There should be a welcome, for example, by lighting a candle.
• Try to ensure that children always have a role within the worship. This could be planned or spontaneous, individually, in groups or as a whole community. Be creative and allow the children freedom and opportunities to be creative within the worship experiences.
• Children should be given a chance to discuss, in talk partners, share their ideas/answers to a posed wondering question (I wonder what respect means? What does it look like in our school?)
•Singing or sung worship should be included to enable pupils to respond in this way.
• There should be a time for children to be still and silent to reflect and think about the key thoughts and/or the Bible message
• Children should be given opportunity to pray/reflect, which might be personally (silently) or out loud as a group or on behalf of the other children or in other ways
• It is important to send the children out with a thought, verse, prayer or question to enable them to continue their thinking and spur them into action (when appropriate) following the worship session
• The end of worship/ the gathering provides a good opportunity to close with a blessing prayer/reflection and to extinguish the candle to show that worship has ended.
- From Year 1 onwards, children will have a separate RE book to record their learning.
- This is for all C of E schools in the Trust- non church schools may choose how they present children’s learning.
- This book will provide evidence of children's learning in RE and will demonstrate the progression of skills in RE and the flow of a sequence of learning.
- Ethos leads, HTLs and staff will use these to monitor teaching and learning.
- The size and colour of the book is at the discretion of each individual school.
- The label on the front of the book should be the same as other labels and state ‘Religious Education’.
- RE portfolios of class learning do not have to be maintained. This is a school-based choice.
Trust and Hub based Ethos Days
What is the purpose of ethos days?
- demonstrate that what you bring back is disseminated to others/ impact on others.
-The children recognise that they are part of something ‘bigger’.
-The children will be developing their leadership skills.
What should be the format of the day?
Within the day, there should be a start and end to the day with a time of collective togetherness- this could include a song/ story/ reflection.
Provide opportunities for schools to share what they have been doing linked to their learning back in school so that the other groups can learn from them.
When are the ethos days most effective?
Where there is a partnership between church and school with the organisation/ planning and facilitation of the day. (If the day is based on a difficult theme with a theological basis, the Church can support with this)
Based on school values/ key focus.
Overarching theme which is explored throughout the day
Balance needed when you are working with Church and Non-church schools.
Children to have their own opportunities to reflect on the theme in their own way.
Something to take back to the school- e.g. create a prayer area/ task to accomplish/ doesn’t just end on the day e.g. making a card for a member of the community/ courageous advocacy project- raising funds for a chosen charity.
Important to mix with other children.
Please note that Ethos committees are not governance committees, but they report into the governance structure, through the Hub Boards, around Christian distinctiveness (for Church schools) and Ethos.