"A Time to Reflect" or Religious Observance (RO)
Friday, July 19, 2013 at 12:37PM
Serve Your Local School

You may think that RO is the latest way of saying ‘school assembly’ – it’s not actually that straightforward and, in some cases, may be very different from a traditional assembly. Religious observance is defined as:

Community acts which aim to promote the spiritual development of all members of the school community and express and celebrate the shared values of the school community.

Report of the Religious Observance Review Group, May 2004

RO might happen in an assembly hall when the timetable says, ‘assembly.’ However there are some key differences. Assemblies are often times for giving notices, awarding certificates and updating the pupils on what they should – and should not – be doing as well as reinforcing the school’s values and ethos. In contrast, RO ideally should not take place in the context of ‘school housekeeping’ but should be a stand alone event. Schools are required to enable pupils to participate in six acts of RO a year, not including any based on religious festivals

RO is not ‘an act of worship’. Schools are diverse places with a variety of faiths and views on religion among both staff and pupils. You can’t make someone worship a God they don’t believe in! Rather, RO is a time where pupils have the opportunity to engage with some of the big questions of life, and it is valid to do this from a faith perspective. It is intended to allow spiritual development in its broadest sense – through sensing mystery, values, a changed quality of awareness, otherness, challenge and meaningfulness.

This breadth gives real scope for creativity to develop RO outside of an assembly style context, which can have a greater impact on pupils as they don’t come with a mindset of being in a conventional assembly.

You’ll find some pointers in the grand ideas section. For more information on RO have a look at the Religious Observance Template or visit the SU Scotland website.

Article originally appeared on SYLS (http://syls.org.uk/).
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