What is spirituality?
Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience – something that touches us all. As a Church of England school, we follow the teachings of Christ, and the ethos of the school is at the heart of our teaching and learning. Our school symbol, which includes the Archangel St Michael’s wings, helps us to reflect on both Christian and moral values. Our core aim is to instil values of courage and compassion, honesty, achievement, leadership and service, all bound within a spirit of Christian love and action.
How we aim to develop a strong sense of spirituality
Students starting our school will visit our local partner church and take part in a service that encourages them to ‘shine their light’. November is a time of remembrance whereby, as a school, we reminisce and celebrate the freedom bestowed by others. Advent begins a build-up to the whole school coming together to celebrate the birth of Jesus in an engaging and creative Christmas service. Lent commences with various initiatives and events that build towards another whole-school celebration of Easter. As a busy year comes to an end, we say goodbye to our Year 11 students through a special Leavers’ Service, which is their last time together as a year group, and we hold a Key Stage 3 service on the final day of the school year to celebrate achievement and to give thanks for God’s presence in our lives.
At St Michael’s, we encourage spiritual development through a variety of activities and events; some experiences act as a ‘window’. These give students opportunities to become aware of the world in new ways. Other events act as ‘mirrors’, which give our students opportunities to reflect and meditate on life’s big questions and to consider some possible answers. Some of the ways we develop a strong sense of spirituality within the curriculum include:
- ensuring regular time for prayer. This can take many forms but should include being thankful and saying sorry
- encouraging children to show kindness, caring and compassion, and to express these in practical ways. (eg: how we treat each other every day; charitable works both locally and globally)
- providing many opportunities for creativity and using the imagination
- providing frequent opportunities for children to explore, express and share feelings
- constantly reaffirming the importance of relationships: emphasising that how we talk to and relate with each other is fundamental
- providing opportunities to express awe and wonder, appreciate beauty in all its forms and appreciate the connections and unity in the world
- encouraging each other to admit mistakes and to say sorry, as recognising and owning up to faults is an important healing and redemptive process
- exploring the ‘Big Questions’ – particularly through our RE programme
- frequently reading to children, and giving them opportunities to discuss and reflect. This includes both secular and religious texts, in particular, the Bible.
Structures to support and develop spirituality:
St Michael’s is a school that encourages reflection on the meaning and purpose of life and the values by which we live. We foster an understanding of how spirituality connects our relationships with ourselves, our family, friends and our community to God and to all of creation. This is achieved through:
- providing opportunities for collective worship across the school, which are mapped out as themes across the year, based on our school values
- promoting acts of collective worship that take different forms, including in form groups, in weekly assemblies, in all staff briefings and in year group and half-school services.
- exhibiting displays and pictures around the school that celebrate and encourage reflection and spirituality
- creating the new chapel, which is available for quiet reflection and prayer throughout the school day
- ensuring that our RE curriculum is inspiring and motivating
- encouraging visits and visitors that support our spiritual ethos.
Impact: how do we know this is being effective?
Spiritually developed children love and accept themselves and enjoy good relationships with each other. They take an interest and delight in the world around them; they are open to what lies beyond the material, which may manifest itself in faith or belief in God. They are able to express and understand feelings, they have a strong moral sense and a love of what is good. They are able to enjoy quiet and stillness, possess an active imagination, and show joy in creativity and discovering new skills.