Our values are firmly rooted in our Church of England foundation and we welcome and respect those of other faiths, or no particular faith. Concern for others lies at the centre of our community and we seek to nurture spiritual maturity in virtues and qualities which include faith, hope, loving kindness, thankfulness, patience and humility.
The College uses the Parish Church of Shiplake as its Chapel. This ensures that pupils are able to experience the context of a working local church, rather than an institutional college chapel. A Junior Chapel Service is held on Tuesday morning for Years 7 to 10. A Senior Chapel Service is held on Wednesday morning for Years 11 to 13. A typical Chapel Service includes a hymn, a reading, a short talk and a prayer. These services are led by the Chaplain, the Lay Chaplain, members of staff and pupils. Each week our Chapel worship is organised and administered by members of the Chapel Warden Team – a group of Year 13 pupils who assist the Chaplain. On Friday morning we have a House Communion for one House in rotation. Other Houses quite often ask to join this service. Enthusiastic hymn singing is an important part of our college worship. It quickly includes and welcomes the newest pupil into the Shiplake family.
We believe that this corporate gathering emphasises the significance of spiritual life within the community, and provides the opportunity for every pupil to reflect upon their beliefs and values.
The Chaplain serves the whole community and seeks to encourage all members to develop their spiritual understand and respect for others. The Chaplain assists those of a particular faith to grow and develop within that faith by providing opportunities for prayer and worship. This included attendance at rites of passage, including Bar Mitzvahs and Roman Catholic Confirmations in the local area. Festivals and special days from all of the major faiths are marked and celebrated.
The Chaplain does not have a teaching commitment but does attend lessons and provides cover when requested to do so. The Chaplain is available to pupils and staff for confidential meetings at all times, and provides a drop-in service in his office, Rev’s Den, from 1.00pm to 1.30pm each day.
There are two discussion groups which take place each week. Café Prayers, which takes place during Monday lunchtime, is for Lower School Pupils. Longhouse, based on the Viking idea of a meeting place to discuss community matters, takes place at 4.45pm on Tuesday and is for pupils from Years 9 to 13 (the Shiplake Alumni are called Old Vikings). Both groups have a Christian basis but are open to those of all faiths, no particular faith, and those who enjoy talking about matters of faith and eating doughnuts.
Some members of staff meet for prayer during Thursday lunchtime. Every year there is the invitation to consider Confirmation in the Church of England. Candidates are prepared by the Chaplain.
Gathering as a whole school is impossible within the confines of our Chapel. To allow the whole community, pupils and staff, to gather together the Headmaster instituted a Whole School Assembly in the Sports Hall on Monday morning. This assembly always starts with a prayer. We also gather in the Sports Hall for a whole school service at the end of every Half Term. A visiting preacher speaks at each of these services. Through the deep resources we make available to our pupils we hope that they will develop lives of compassion, curiosity and awe as they seek greater spiritual and emotional maturity and intelligence.