Reflection time in schools shows what we can learn together

The Church has called for religious observance in schools to be renamed 'Time for Reflection.' The Church believes this would make a significant contribution to help make the debate about religious observance in schools more about what we can do and less an argument between opposing views.

*In its submission to the to the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee it notes that much of the criticism of the contribution made by school chaplains were not religious observance as defined by the 2005 guidance and 2011 advice note to schools and it is misleading to conflate other activities in schools with religious observance as part of an agenda to get rid of religious observance.

The Church of Scotland supported wholeheartedly the radical change in the practice of religious observance recommended by the then Scottish Executive’s 2000 Review and the 2005 guidance and 20011 advice note to schools saying its own work on religious observance is based on five core principles.

The Church’s commitment to Time for Reflection is expressed in the five principals:

  • Head teachers decide who leads Time for Reflection
  • Outside leaders, including chaplains, do so to assist the school in delivering a Time for Reflection agenda defined by the school, bound by the need to be genuinely inclusive
  • Time for Reflection should be built on the exploration of sensing as defined by the 2000 review: Sensing mystery, values, meaningfulness, changed qualities of awareness, otherness and challenge
  • Time for Reflection is not, and should never be confessional in nature. It not worship or 'state sponsored' prayers either
  • The best Time for Reflection is often pupil led

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: “All Time for Reflection/Religious Observance should be genuinely inclusive of people of faith. This will not be easy but the Church believes that it can be achieved and to do so will make very significant contribution to creating a genuinely inclusive society that moves beyond tolerance to deep respect, understanding and common living based on real self-understanding about others beliefs and values.

“Some argue that because every community is diverse, this kind of collective reflection is impossible, but that is a defeatist attitude, suggesting that because people see the world differently, we cannot work together to find common ground. This cannot be a debate where only one side 'wins' and the other 'loses.' That is not good for our children or our society. This has to be more about what we can do together that what divides us.”