The Diocese of Ely Education Directorate

Inviting Visitors to lead Collective Worship in Your School

Inviting visitors to lead collective worship requires time and organisation – here is a checklist of the things you should be doing and thinking about:

  • Make sure that the visitor is suitable – not everyone can talk to young people at an appropriate level! Meet the visitor beforehand to ascertain this, or ask to speak with other schools which they have visited.  Follow your school’s normal safeguarding procedures.
  • Speak to the visitor personally and discuss the format of the worship in advance. If they have not been to your school before, invite them to see a “normal” school act of collective worship before they lead one themselves.
  • The visitor will need to be briefed beforehand on: the length and timings of the worship; the number of pupils and their age range; the faith / cultural mix of the pupils; the usual format of collective worship; and whether there is anything special happening in the school that day which they could tie in to their theme. If the visitor is contributing to a theme lasting several days, you need to check that they are not planning to use a story or resource which someone else has used earlier.
  • Discuss in advance what resources the visitor will need (e.g. projector, table). Check any hymn they would like to use is known by the school – you may have to suggest an alternative to fit their theme. Ask how they like to be introduced. If they are travelling some distance it is right to check what expenses they require.
  • Send written or e-mail confirmation of the date and timings to the visitor, with a copy of any in-school guidance on collective worship. Make sure they have a contact number in case something prevents their coming on the day.
  • Ensure that the visitor is mentioned in staff notices – using whatever system is current in your school.
  • Make sure someone is available to welcome the visitor when they arrive. Give them an opportunity to set up the venue in advance if need be. Be hospitable!
  • When you introduce the visitor to the children do not steal their thunder by telling them what the visitor will be talking about – this might ruin the visitor’s plans if they were building surprise elements into the worship! Conversely, do not take up the visitor’s time by a lot of notices!
  • NEVER leave a visitor, even a regular visitor, to take an act of collective worship alone.
  • Try not to abandon the visitor at the end of the assembly – organise someone to say thank you and offer them a drink etc. Give the visitor some feedback on how things went – and, even though this might be difficult, don’t let visitors think all was well if issues arose during the worship (e.g. level of vocabulary). Most regular worship leaders appreciate professional feedback to help them improve.
  • If this is a one-off occasion follow up thank you letters from the children would be appreciated by the visitor