Spirituality in the Curriculum

“Life isn't about the number of breaths we take,
but the moments that take our breath away.”
The National Curriculum
states as one of its two core
aims that each school should
“aim to promote pupils’
spiritual, moral, social and
cultural development.”
Archbishop Temple who
was asked to produce a
statement on spirituality
for the Education Reform
Act of 1944…
“The churches were in such a
state at the time that we
thought if we used the word
spiritual they might agree to
that because they did not
know what it was”
“You think it’s quite easy
when you are singing it
but when you try and
explain it you don’t know
which words to use.”
Jenny 10 year old girl
The Spirit of the Child, David Hay)
The 1944 act stated that it was the
“duty of the local education
authority for every area, so far as
their powers extend, to contribute
towards the spiritual, moral, mental,
and physical development of the
In 1988 the new education
reform act continued to
promote “the spiritual, moral,
cultural, mental and physical
development of pupils at the
school and of society;”
Every state-funded school must offer
a curriculum which is balanced and
broadly based and which:
promotes the spiritual, moral,
cultural, mental and physical
development of pupils at the school
and of society
The UN charter for human
rights also refers to
four times
The issue relates
to your own
Deputy Head
Geoff Rutherford
There are issues for those at both
ends of the Spiritual Continuum
The pagan
wonders how he
can lead a time
of worship with
any integrity
The saint understands
faith in the context of
church but wonders
what faith looks like
in a school
“Spirituality is
not necessarily
religious or even
dependent on
religion as its
(Clive Simpkins)
As Jesus pointed out on
more than one occasion,
religion is often one of
the biggest hindrances
for those on a quest for
true spirituality
“Religion tends to be associated with what
is publicly available such as churches,
mosques, bibles, prayer books, weddings
and funerals” … an increasing number of
people in Western countries want to
distinguish it (spirituality) from religion”
David Hay, The Spirit of the Child
“Spirituality is almost always seen
as much warmer, associated with
love, inspiration, wholeness, depth,
mystery and personal devotions like
prayer and meditation”
David Hay, The Spirit of the Child
Religious education
is principally an
academic subject
and is the study of
theology and of
We don’t expect
children who study
elements of World
War 2 in the History
curriculum to
imbibe Nazi philosophy
“R.E. was sometimes
confused with pupil’s
spiritual, moral, social and
cultural development”
Religious Education: Realising the Potential
(OFSTED, 2013 p13)
There is an
distinction that
needs to be made
between “knowing
about God” and
“knowing God”
Howard Gardner
found that the
characteristics of
spirituality did not
lend itself to being
classed as a
neurologically entity
In its statement of aims
the National Curriculum
makes a distinction
between the “Spiritual”
and the “Moral and
Social” elements
The word “worship"
comes from the
"weorthscipe," it
means “the act of
focusing on that
which is of greatest
*Christian worship is a
spiritual act flowing from
their faith in God
*Many children have not
formulated an opinion on
whether God even exists
is that element of the human psyche
that is concerned with the inner life.
It transcends the mind, the heart and
the emotions although we recognise
that a spiritual experience may well
impact on all of these.
A Spiritual Experience
is one which opens the
mind and the heart to a
deeper understanding
of oneself and one’s
place in the cosmos and
the world.
We touch spirituality when we encounter
an experience on life’s journey
that causes us to reflect on
the deeper things of life,
its meaning and our purpose within it,
and as a consequence
our lives are transformed
Viewed in this light
the opportunities
for spirituality
seemed endless.
Most occurring
outside of the
traditional assembly
“All National Curriculum
subjects provide
opportunities to
promote pupils'
spiritual, moral, social
and cultural development.”
(National Curriculum)
“In a world which is gathering
pace in the speed with which
most of us live if we can develop
a generation of children who have
learnt the importance of taking
time out of a busy day to sit
quietly and reflect we will have
achieved much”
Scientists find that a touch of
awe can do us all good
Regular awe-inspiring experiences may
improve our mental health and make us
nicer people, psychologists have claimed,
raising the prospect of "awe therapy" to
overcome the stressful effects of fast-paced
modern life.
(Independent July 2012)
Whilst in churches
spirituality will
generally be thought
of as a synonym for
Christianity, in schools
this is not the case.
The Spiritual
Room with a
door marked
Is a moral
tale spiritual?
If the children are
gaining a spiritual
curriculum through
experiences do we
always need to go
through the extra door
into a more traditional
faith based spirituality?
Schools should “provide
opportunities to promote
pupils’ spiritual
(The National Curriculum)
Why would we not want to
include a faith based spirituality?
Paul Finch has shared with the
staff the concept of
“Directive Silence”
“God made these”
“If you believe in
God what do the
cobwebs tell you
about God?”
… and if you don’t believe in God, what do
they tell you about the world we live in
Put statements put in
the third person
“some people feel
that God helps them
when they are in
“Some people
think that
the earth
is flat”
(Flat Earth Society)
Developing a sense of Spirituality
(Wyche Curriculum)
The National Curriculum says we should
look for “explicit opportunities to
promote pupils' (spiritual)
development in these areas”
What do you value in life?
How do we change our own
What type of person risks life and
limb to achieve a particular goal?
What is there in life that you are
really passionate about?
“For myself I would rather
know what contrition feels
like, than how
to define it”
Thomas a Kempis
In a world which is gathering pace
in the speed…
*Children who have learnt the
importance of taking time out to
reflect on life
*Provide opportunities to develop
a life of faith

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