School is now up and running again after what I hope was a great break for all of our families. I am pleased to say that the rebuilding of the new school continues apace and that we remain on schedule to complete the first phase by Easter 2015. I am delighted to report that our pupils have performed to a high standard, once again, in the exams this year; testament to their hard work and excellent support provided by staff and parents in so many different ways.
During this session we will be using email to communicate with parents and in this email I wish to share with you a proposal for JGHS to meet Government requirements to provide religious observance in our school.
This consultation was included in the summer 2014 newsletter (on school website) but as you may have missed it I thought it best to share it with you again so that you may share your views. This consultation closes on Midnight on Sunday 7 September.
The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 makes it a statutory duty of the local authority to provide religious observance in Scottish schools. Guidance provided by The Scottish Government suggests that it be developed in a way which reflects and understands the diverse faith and belief traditions represented in Scotland while at the same time being sensitive to individual spiritual needs and beliefs. The Religious Observance Review
Group Report (2004) reiterates the view of Scottish Government Ministers that religious observance is an important educational experience for children and young people at all stages. At James Gillespie’s High School we are striving to improve our provision of inclusive religious observance
under the title used by the Scottish Parliament, ‘Time for Reflection’. The objective is to create a well thought out forum for personal/spiritual development, which recognises the dignity and worth of each individual and their contribution to the school and wider community.’
All pupils and staff should be able to participate fully with integrity without compromising their faith commitment or non-faith beliefs.
Our proposal for the 2014/2015 session is to enact the following:
1. Plan a minimum of six opportunities for ‘Time for Reflection’ during the school year.
2. As advocated by the Scottish Secular Society, make parents/carers explicitly aware of the full extent and nature of ‘Time for Reflection’ as well as the provision to withdraw children from participation. We aim to promote a high level of understanding and sensitivity so that there is no fear that a child would be singled out.
3. Plan an equal number of worthwhile alternatives for pupils who are withdrawn by parents from participation in ‘Time for Reflection’. Allowing a conscious choice, free of compulsion, could make the entire activity more meaningful.
At present we are drawing up a calendar to mark a wide range of traditions and practices via an assortment of activities and forums. As the session gets underway in we would welcome feedback on the above from our parents, carers and pupils. Contributions and suggestions on how we might make ‘Time for Reflection’ even more valuable are especially welcome. All comments should go in the first instance to Mr. J Warden (Pupil Support) via email: Jeff.Warden@jamesgillespies.edin.sch.uk
We look forward to hearing from you.
The feedback received from parents will be collated and shared at the first meeting of the Parent Council on the evening of Tuesday 16 September from 7 Pm. All parents/carers are welcome
Donald J Macdonald