The themes for collective worship vary: we follow the liturgical year; focus on our school’s core values; use our Statements to Live By; or reflect and respond to events in our school community or in the wider world. We have Mass together in school or in Church to mark key points in the school year and the Church’s year. We regularly invite parent, carers and parishioners to join us for worship.
At St Aelred’s, children learn about Jesus Christ, practise living in a community of faith, and have opportunity to develop and deepen their relationship with Christ. In school, pupils learn about many aspects of the Catholic faith, including learning about the sacraments. They learn that through the sacraments, we encounter Christ in a special way. Preparation to receive the sacraments, however, occurs in the parish, with the support of the school and of parents.
Are you seeking for your child to prepare for and celebrate the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion? If so, please contact St Aelred’s parish priest, Father Bill, for more information. There is more information on the parish website, which you can view here.
Our Prayer Life In School
Prayer is a valued part of the rhythm of our school day. It brings us together as a community and helps us to grow closer to God. We create opportunities for personal as well as for communal prayer. Each classroom has a prayer space which can be a focus for individual or group prayer.
Daily, we pray in collective worship, in thanks for the food we eat, and at the start and end of the day. All have the opportunity to pray; no one is made to pray but all are expected to be respectful during times of prayer.
Children are taught some of the rich heritage of traditional Catholic prayers, but are also encouraged to recognise that prayer is about a personal relationship with God. When sharing traditional prayers with children, we reflect upon the words used and explore the meaning of them in a variety of ways.
Prayer comes in many forms, for example it can be contemplative; can be sung; can come through movement or using our hands (such as the Five-Finger prayer promoted by Pope Francis); can be a prayer walk or an artistic response.
Prayer reflects the essence of our lives: joy or sorrow; a sense of belonging or feelings of loneliness; celebration and peace or anger and upset. It can emerge from our personal lives, the world around us, the life of the community, the seasons of the Church’s year or the wide range of learning contexts in school. It may appropriately draw together with the children’s reflections during RE, Relationships Education, or be include in learning about Our Common Home, for example.
Through worship, in our relationships, in teaching, and at play, St Aelred’s is committed to the expression of the Catholic faith, both explicitly and – perhaps more importantly – in our daily life together. Daily, we try to live out our vision of our school that is: A family of God, living life in all its fullness – playing, learning and growing, together. Members of our school community are encouraged to show God’s love through our core values of friendship, courage and respect. It is in our day-to-day actions and interactions; in the care that we show for one-another; in our dedication to providing the best for each child; that we hope that God’s love shines through.
Informed by our Catholic beliefs and values, school offers a welcoming, forgiving, secure and loving community for every child, which nurtures their development as an individual human person, encourages them on their faith journey, and challenges them to show God’s love through the service of others. Service of others might be helping another pupil; taking on a responsibility in school; taking part in visiting Lamel Beeches, locally; joining in with fundraising for CAFOD, for example; or praying for others. Children are helped to understand their world and their lives in the light of their faith. Our Catholic faith encourages children to develop into the person God wants us to be and is at the centre of our curriculum and behaviour strategies.
For School leadership, our Catholic values are the touchstone: for us as role models; in our decision making; in the service of others; and in our interactions in school and within the wider school community.
There are explicit outward signs of the Catholic faith in our school, such as displays, prayer spaces, crucifixes, and a display in the entrance which captures our vision and values. These are outward signs of our Catholic identity, which help to communicate the liturgical, sacramental and spiritual life of the school and inform and inspire children, staff and visitors.
Although the school has a Catholic foundation, we welcome and respect children and families of all faiths or of none. Equally, we expect that families who are not Catholic, who have chosen St Aelred’s for their child, to support and respect the Catholic distinctiveness of the school.
Our School Council leads on sustainability, which is also a priority of SMCCAT. This work in school, is underpinned by our belief in stewardship and the call of Pope Francis, in Laudato Si, for every one of us to take responsibility for looking after Our Common Home.
Our Chaplaincy Team, helps us to keep focused on ensuring that we, ‘make Christ known and loved.’ (Bishop of Middlesbrough, the Right Reverend Terence Drainey) in our school.
The role of the Chaplaincy Team at St Aelred’s is to:
- work as a team to support and develop the spiritual life of the school;
- help others become closer to God – through prayer, scripture, song, and through encounters with others;
- encourage others to take part in prayer opportunities by talking about why we pray, encouraging prayer in different forms and showing that it can celebratory, reflective, peaceful, calming;
- deepen understanding of the liturgical seasons and special days, including saints’ days, through liturgy and prayer.
- lead us in prayer for those who are sad, lonely, ill, or in need of our help.
Members of the Chaplaincy team are taught how to plan and lead collective worship in class and then are able to support others throughout the school to do the same. They lead regular lunchtime prayer groups, and support preparation for liturgies and Masses.
The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) at St Aelred’s is very well-supported and active in reaching out and helping those in need in our parish, school and local community. In school, our Mini Vinnies also turn concern into action. They go the extra mile and meet to pray about how they can help others in need, but most importantly, they act! The Vincentian life means we have to ‘see, think and do’ so that we really understand how to live the message of Christ to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Our Mini Vinnies Team meet regularly with Mr Patton to celebrate the work of St Vincent de Paul and to live his example through:
- thinking about those in need
- actively working to create positive change for others
Mini Vinnies make a pledge about their commitment and work for the good of the community when they join. At the start of the year the Mini Vinnies plan how and when they will fundraise throughout the year. In school, they help pupils by providing initiatives such as class worry boxes for children to share their concerns. As a school and with the support of our parish SVP, we support our local community at harvest, and at different times of the year by sending friendship cards. We also support our neighbours around the world such as fundraising for the Open Arms Orphanage in Malawi, Mission Together and CAFOD.
St Aelred’s Catholic Church is within walking distance of school, enabling us to easily visit Church. St Aelred’s Parish Priest, Fr Bill, is a regular visitor to school, to leading us in Mass in school, helping us with our learning about the Catholic faith, and always reminding us that we are each loved by God. St Aelred’s parish is hugely welcoming to families and all-comers, following in the footsteps of St Aelred himself in reaching out in friendship to all.
There is regular school-led Mass on Sundays at St Aelred’s, when children help to lead the Mass in church by reading the prayers and scriptures, welcoming people into church, carrying the offertory gifts and leading the music. Mass at St Aelred’s church starts at 9.30 am. Everyone is welcome! There is a great sense of community. Mass is always followed by a coffee morning in the community centre.