‘We seek to transform the lives of our children within a Christian environment, nurturing the wellbeing of each child, promoting the highest academic achievement and instilling a lifelong love of learning.’
I alone know the plans I have for you; plans for the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11
God’s plans for us are limitless. He knows us best and plans for us to reach our unique and individual potential, shaped in the palm of His hand. This potential may reveal itself when we least expect it, just like God’s love being revealed to us. We believe that we are shaping children, not just in the present, but also for the future – enabling them to be global citizens in God’s rapidly changing world, celebrating life in all its fullness.
As a school, children, staff and parents, we have chosen the Christian values of friendship, wisdom, endurance, trust and koinonia. The children take pride in showing these values each and every day, both in school and in their home lives.
What is Spirituality?
It is very difficult to put into words what ‘spirituality’ actually is, because it is a very personal experience, each experience will be different, and experience of spirituality often changes over the course of a lifetime. Spirituality is not the same as having faith or belonging to a particular religion; a person can be spiritual without having a particular faith
Some definitions of spirituality include:
‘One’s inner being. Our inner self, where we can find resources within that come from a greater source. Our soul.’
‘Spirituality may refer to almost any kind of activity through which a person seeks meaning, especially a search for the sacred. It may also refer to personal growth, blissful experience, or an encounter with one’s own inner dimension.’
As a school, we have defined spirituality as:
Spirituality is not something we can see; it is something we feel inside ourselves. It is about awe and wonder, asking questions, inspiration and being aware of something ‘bigger’ outside of ourselves.
The language we use to describe spirituality is not always child-friendly, so when talking to children about it, we will refer to:
- A sense of awe and wonder – things that make us go WOW!
- Care for nature and living things
- Wanting to love and to be loved by people
These strands are also underpinned by an understanding of:
SELF - we want pupils and adults to recognise and develop their own beliefs. We want them to be successful in exploring personal faith and understand what is important to them and why. We want them to develop an awareness of feelings and the ability to reflect and express themselves. We want them to trust themselves and develop their ability to be honest with themselves and others. We want them to be aware of who they are and celebrate their uniqueness. We want them to be thankful for who they are and what we have. We want them to grow in imagination and creativity.
Awe and Wonder
Children are born inquisitive, and it is our duty to nurture this natural curiosity and guide them towards looking at the wider world around them and noticing, with awe and wonder, the natural and man-made delights all around us. We want to encourage them to ask ‘big questions’ and delight in the wonder of life, religion, nature, science and any other area of fascination. Through this, we want them to encounter and experience God.
Caring for Nature and Living Things
We provide many opportunities for children to learn about nature and the role they play in protecting our world. As a Church School, this is especially important. We strive to develop children who care about the world around them, becoming passionate about making the world a better place through their actions. The ongoing development of Forest School provision, as well as the newly formed Eco Council, aim to develop this even further.
We are a very caring school and pride ourselves on our ethos. Through our Christian Values, focusing on both self and others, we teach children to care for themselves, friends, family and the community. We want everyone in our school community to know that there is always something we can do to make things better for others. We want them to develop empathy and understanding for others, to be neighbourly, respectful and tolerant as individuals.
How is Spirituality Nurtured?
Children’s spiritual development is nurtures through all aspects of our provision. It is about the relationships and values that we consider to be important, as well as the development of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes. We give children opportunities to:
- Begin to develop their own system of beliefs which may or may not include religious beliefs.
- Experience a love of learning through rewarding their enthusiasm and by encouraging exploratory play and learning.
- Reflect upon the world around them and show a sense of awe and wonder towards aspects of the natural world or human achievement.
- Reflect on the situations of others through role play, stories.
- Experience a range of stories, music, art, drama and dance
Teaching Opportunities and Strategies
Liz Mills from The Stapleford Centre, a Christian charity fostering Christian engagement in education, has identified 3 ways that schools can provide opportunities for spiritual development:
WINDOWS: giving children opportunities to become aware of the world in new ways; to wonder about life's 'Wow!s' (things that are amazing) and 'Oh!s' (things that bring us up short). In this children are learning about life in all its fullness.
MIRRORS: giving children opportunities to reflect on their experiences; to meditate on life's big questions and to consider some possible answers. In this they are learning from life by exploring their own insights and perspectives and those of others.
DOORS: giving children opportunities to respond to all of this; to do something creative as a means of expressing, applying and further developing their thoughts and convictions. In this they are learning to live by putting into action what they are coming to believe and value
We provide WINDOWS throughout our curriculum. We will be having specific lessons with an awe and wonder focus with a variety of stimuli, including photos, videos, music current events and real-life stories.
As a school we place high value on thinking skills. We use De Bono’s Thinking Hats, Tony Ryan’s Thinkers Keys and Philosophy 4 Children. These offer a variety of MIRRORS for the children to reflect on the world in different, deeper ways. It allows them to ask and discuss bigger questions and consider their own ideas and beliefs. Through high-quality RE lessons, children are consistently challenged to reflect on their learning about religion to help them learn from religion, regardless of whether they have a specific faith.
Children at our school often identify DOORS for themselves. They may hear of a local issue or an international event and request to take action, through fund raising and raising awareness. We also work with the local community through litter picking, making posters for display in the village, local fundraising and other activities. We also take part in Comic Relief, Children in Need, and Operation: Christmas Child, as well as identifying other charities to support during the year.
What is the role of the school community?
All members of the school community have a responsibility for helping to nurture children’s spiritual development.
School staff can do this through:
- Establishing and maintaining a partnership between pupils, parents and staff; recognising and respecting the faith background of the children and their families;
- Taking part in, and supporting, collective acts of worship;
- Being good role models in their conduct towards other members of the community;
- Promoting an attitude of respect for other people and for others’ views;
- Nurturing consideration for and generosity towards others.
- Drawing on the experiences of pupils and their families during religious education lessons and beyond;
- Recognising and being constantly aware of the needs and backgrounds of each individual pupil;
- Being willing to develop their own knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith and the faiths of others;
- Having a positive attitude to the value of spiritual education.
Pupils can do this through:
- Taking an active part in acts of collective worship;
- Participating in activities which promote the skills allowing them to engage in examination of and reflection upon religious belief and practice;
- Conducting themselves towards others considerately, in line with the code of conduct;
- Respecting the views and beliefs of others.
Parents can help through:
- Adopting a positive attitude to the value of spiritual education;
- Supporting the school’s Christian ethos and acts of community worship such as assemblies and church services;
- Respecting the views and beliefs of others.
Pupils leave Christ Church CE (VA) Junior School knowing that love will be with them wherever they go. They thrive off the love of others, and through this, they see beauty in the world round them, however they may interpret this. We aim for all of our children to leave Christ Church respectful, skilful, ambitious young people, with a thirst for life and all it has to offer, living Life in all its fullness, John 10:10.