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Rachael Shillitoe

Research Student (Leverhulme Trust-funded)

Institute of Education

Contact Details


tel: 0190 5855238

Research: ‘Collective Worship: Foregrounding the Child’s Perspective’

Supervisory Team: Director of Studies: Professor Stephen Parker (Worcester), Dr Richard Woolley (Worcester) and Dr Anna Strhan (Kent).


With a background in education and youth work, Rachael has worked both in the UK and overseas on various youth led initiatives such as The Community-Apprentice project for Envision and Restless Development Nepal’s Community and Youth Empowerment Programme. Rachael has a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from Lancaster University and an MA from SOAS. She is excited to combine both her passion for religious studies and work with young people, whilst researching the PhD: ‘Collective Worship: Foregrounding the Child’s Perspective’.


Rachael’s research is part of a wider Leverhulme Trust-funded project entitled ‘Faith on the Air: a religious educational broadcasting history, c. 1922- present’, led by Professor Stephen Parker. Rachael will be investigating the role of collective worship for schools in Britain in shaping children’s spirituality. This research investigates the influence of adult-generated constructions of collective worship for schools, including that of radio broadcasts, seeking to reveal the extent to which these are formative of particular understandings of religion and spirituality Taking an interdisciplinary approach, and sitting at the interface between media studies, education and religious studies, this research will paint a unique picture on the everyday encounters of religion and spirituality in schools. By providing a contextual analysis of material created for this part of the school day (e.g. Collective Worship at the BBC), then taking an immersive ethnographic approach across a selection of primary schools, this research intends to explore how children experience and receive the worship constructed for them. This project will also consider the wider issue of how schools interpret the requirements to provide collective worship and spiritually educate children. The research will track changes and developments in educational policy and practice from the 1940s to the present, amidst social, religious and political change in order to provide a contextualised backdrop when encountering collective worship in its present form(s) today.

Research Interests:

Religion and spirituality
Sociology and anthropology of religion
Childhood studies
Religious education
Media, religion and culture