Children should continue to take part in harvest festivals, survey suggests

13 September 2019

CHURCH OF ENGLAND

A Harvest display at St Albans Cathedral

A Harvest display at St Albans Cathedral

THREE-QUARTERS of those questioned in a new survey believe that children should continue to take part in harvest festivals.

In the ComRes survey of 4051 adults last month, commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council, 76 per cent said that there was still value in children’s participation in harvest festivals; and 65 per cent of those surveyed recalled positive memories of a harvest festival from when they were a child.

Harvest festivals continue to be an annual autumn event in most parishes. Observance of the festival in schools has been seen to have diminished in recent years, however.

Of those polled, three-quarters — 73 per cent — could remember celebrating harvest. The majority of them, 61 per cent, could remember bringing in food to give to people in need, while 64 per cent could remember hymns or prayers.

The results of a YouGov poll on acts of worship in schools, conducted for Humanists UK last month, were said, by the organisation, to show that half the people in Britain did not believe that acts of religious worship were appropriate for state-school assemblies (News, 27 August).

In contrast, after the Harvest poll, the Church of England’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said: “Harvest festival is just one of the ways that the Christian tradition enriches the lives of children of all backgrounds as part of daily collective worship.”

Of those surveyed who had children aged under the age of 18, a total of 1057 people, 42 per cent said that their child or children did not participate in a harvest festival. Only 29 per cent said that they had children who participated in a harvest-festival activity.

Parents who did not associate with a religion were most likely — 47 per cent — to say that their children did not participate in Harvest.

Mr Genders said: “It’s encouraging to know that parents agree [that Harvest enriches the lives of children], and that there is a clear call for more schools of all kinds to use the coming weeks to celebrate Harvest; and I hope that many will do so.

“Harvest is a wonderful opportunity for all schools and nurseries to help children and young people to think about how food reaches their plates, and to say thank you for all they have received, as well as giving to those in need.”

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