Spiritual Development – Personal and Whole-school
Spiritual development plays a key role in enabling the achievement of our vision of Love Learn Thrive. Our commitment to nurturing each child as an individual involves a strong commitment to nurturing the spiritual growth and development.
Our thinking, planning and approaches to the development of spirituality across our federation have been supported and guided by the Church of England’s –
Spiritual Development Interpretations of spiritual development in the classroom October 2019
Click on this link to access a copy of: 2019 Spiritual Development – Interpretations of spiritual developments in the classroom
Spiritual development should define and influence all areas of life. It concerns enabling the innermost essence of each individual to grow and thrive in order to become the best versions of ourselves we can be enabling us to enjoy life in all its fullness.
“ I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” (John 10 verse 10)
We should be encouraged and enabled to reflect inwardly, to reflect on the world around us, and to look beyond at the transcendent which includes reflecting on God, life and faith.
This will also mean dealing with some of the difficult, contentious and messy aspects of human life and experience – not all that is spiritual is good or to be encouraged, but these do need to be acknowledged and addressed appropriately.
What is spirituality?
Spirituality is a very personal experience: it happens within ourselves, varying from person to person, and changing over the course of a lifetime. It concerns an individual’s relationship with themselves, with others, with God (or the transcendent, outside humanity), and with the natural world.
To help all in our communities understand the complex and abstract concept of spirituality we consider how spirituality might be evident in more concrete forms. Four such forms are;
Compassion – empathy and relationship with others, feeling and responding in action
- Honesty – being able to see where we have not been the best version of ourselves, and doing something about it.
- Integrity – relationship with self and with God, encompassing all of our values, and acting on those regardless of whether others can see or not.
- Awe – reflecting on and valuing the wonders of the world around us.
There are many bible stories that provide examples of these elements which enable children to begin to understand and make sense of the concept and ideas around spirituality. Across the Federation we use stories including many from the bible to develop children’s understanding.
One core narrative we use to help the children with their understanding of spirituality based around the four more concrete forms is
Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand.
Clearly, Jesus demonstrated compassion, understanding the human need in those around him for rest and food, then providing those (the action side of compassion) from available resources.
The little boy who had the five loaves and two fishes chose to be honest as he offered his lunch to the disciples; he could easily have shared with only a few or concealed what he had to keep for himself. The disciples displayed integrity as they took the food to Jesus – the man they were following who was, at the same time, in unity with God and reflected the nature of God. The miracle itself came from a position of thankfulness, as Jesus thanked God for His provision. The people around were in awe of what had taken place, celebrating individually and in community the richness of God’s blessing. It is significant that the event took place outdoors and that the food (fish and barley) were produce of the Earth and sea, the care of which was entrusted to humankind by God.
It is important to us that all adults in school, and in our wider school family, see the need to develop their own spirituality so that together we can effectively encourage and support the children, and each other, in our spiritual journeys.
How we aim to develop a strong sense of spirituality?
Children’s spiritual development is nurtured through our curriculum and extra curricular provision. In our federation, relationships are one of our five learning principles. A core aspect of spiritual development concerns relationships and the values that we consider to be important. Spiritual development also concerns = the development of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes.
In order to nurture children’s spiritual development we provide children opportunities to:
- Have regular times in the day for quiet and reflection. Opportunities such as listening to story, lighting a candle, reflecting on a theme or idea, sitting quietly, or watching the clouds move are simple ways of promoting reflection.
- Create regular opportunities to reflect and look back on achievements and successes.
- Prioritise the significant value of relationships teaching children that these have to be worked on and nurtured in order for them to thrive.
- Provide many opportunities for creativity and using the imagination.
- Valuing play opportunities, particularly outdoors creating spaces and opportunities for different types of play.
- Singing often, especially with others.
- Have regular time for prayer both formal and spontaneous. including being thankful, saying sorry and acknowledging forgiveness.
- Open themselves to God, experiencing spirituality as they are able.
- Provide frequent opportunities for children to explore, express and share feelings.
- Provide opportunities to express awe and wonder, appreciate beauty in all its forms.
- Experience the wonder of the natural world, through observation and hands-on experience for example, planting and nurturing seeds, and harvesting produce in our garden areas.
- Encourage and model to all to admit mistakes and say sorry. Recognising and owning our faults and flaws is an important part of forgiving.
- Encourage children to show kindness, caring and compassion, and to express these in practical ways for example how we speak and act towards each other, how we help others in our school, community and the wider world.
- Explore the ‘Big Questions’ – particularly through our RE programme and Philosophy for Children (P4C)
- Read often and be read to, from the Bible and a range of other stories providing opportunities to discuss and reflect.
Implementing support and opportunities to develop spirituality
- Opportunities for personal growth are planned for across our curriculum including in Religious Education and Personal Social Health and Citizenship Education.
- Our planned programme for Collective Worship across the school maps out themes across the year, based on our identified Christian Values
- Collective Worship is invitational, inspiring, and imaginative creating time for children to reflect and pause on its content and message. It is led by a variety of adults and children.
- Our prayer books/displays and collective worship displays create opportunities for children to respond to the themes and ideas
- Displays and pictures around the school continually celebrate and encourage reflection and spirituality.
- Our RE curriculum is inspiring and motivating, encouraging personal reflection on spiritual topics and questions of faith
- Visits, visitors and hands-on experience support all our work
- A weekly drama group helps children explore spiritual themes in an expressive way.
- Children are supported and encouraged to practically engage with and give service to the community in a range of practical ways including – singing to the community at Christmas time (Carols and the Castle Ruins and Rudding Gates), proposing charities to support and raising funds for specific projects e.g. toilet twinning and Craft Aid.
Impact: how do we know this is being effective?
As all governors recognise the importance of the distinctive nature of our Federation of two Church Schools they all play a role in evaluating, reviewing and monitoring the impact of spiritual development. They regularly visit the school, talking with children and adults, and assessing for themselves how all members of the school community have their spiritual needs met and developed. Their findings are reported to all governors and to the Headteacher who provides feedback and further guidance to all school staff.
When reviewing the impact of our provision consideration is given to the following judgement statements:
Spiritually developed children and adults love and accept themselves and enjoy good relationships with each other. They grow in their sense of self through reflecting on their personal values, beliefs, experiences, strengths and weaknesses. They are confident to explore and ask questions about the values and beliefs of others, and develop respect for these.
Spiritually developed children and adults take an interest in and delight in the world around them, and are open to what lies beyond the material (which may manifest itself in faith/belief in God). They are able to express and understand feelings; they have a strong moral sense and a love of what is good and just. They are able to enjoy quiet and stillness. They possess active imaginations, and can use these creatively in all aspects of their learning, showing joy in creativity and the discovery of new skills.
Spiritually developed children and adults take delight in aspiring to be the best versions of themselves they can be, experiencing and enjoying life in all its fullness:
“ I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” (John 10 verse 10)