Spirituality at Immanuel
Jesus is Immanuel - God with us
“For a human being, especially a child or young person, to have a full quality of life, spirituality in all its aspects must be nurtured and affirmed” (John Bradford).
Our vision statement states that children, parents and staff work together in a caring Christian community, where children are valued; where they feel happy and secure; where they learn and grow in their faith. Within our academically high-achieving environment, we enable all to flourish and grow as individuals, developing their personal skills and abilities, talents, characters, spirituality and faith.
A key part of that belief is to nurture children’s spiritual awareness and develop each child’s spiritual character.
What is spirituality?
Spirituality concerns a person’s relationship with themselves, with others, with God (or the transcendent), and with nature and the environment. These four elements: self; others; transcendence and beauty form the basis of our work with children in developing a strong sense of spirituality.
It is also vital that all of the adults in school also see the need to develop their own spirituality for their own wellbeing, and so that they can effectively support and help our children and each other.
The four elements - what these consist of:
- Awareness of feelings; ability to reflect and express
- Awareness of our uniqueness; happiness with who we are
- Gratitude for the things we have and the person we are
- Exploration of personal faith
- Development of imagination and creativity
- Empathy and understanding; respect, tolerance
- To love and be loved (loving your neighbour)
- Making a difference; duty
- Encountering/experiencing God (having a sense of what lies beyond the material/physical)
- Ability to formulate and discuss the ‘Big Questions’ (e.g. about life, death, suffering, nature of God)
- Opportunities for prayer, connecting with God
- Making sense of the world
- Developing a sense of awe and wonder
- Enjoying the miracles of everyday life
- Taking time for what really matters
- Appreciating beauty in art, music, nature
How we aim to develop a strong sense of spirituality
- Spirituality is one of our three curriculum drivers and is therefore at the heart of our curriculum
- Have regular time in the day for quiet and reflection. This might be listening to a story, lighting a candle in worship, sitting in our Peace Garden or sensory room.
- Provide many opportunities for creativity and using the imagination
- Valuing play opportunities
- Singing often, especially with others.
- Ensuring regular time for prayer. This can take many forms, but should including being thankful, saying sorry. Allow children the opportunity to open themselves to God.
- Provide frequent opportunities for children to explore, express and share feelings. We use the Jigsaw PSHE Programme.
- Constantly reaffirm the importance of relationships. How we talk to and relate with each other is fundamental.
- Provide opportunities to express awe and wonder, appreciate beauty in all its forms, and appreciate the connections and unity in the world
- Encourage each other to admit mistakes and to say sorry. Recognising and owning up to faults is an important healing and redemptive process. Forgiveness is at the heart of our Behaviour Policy.
- Encourage children to show kindness, care and compassion, and to express these in practical ways. (e.g.: how we treat each other every day; charitable works)
- Explore the ‘Big Questions’ – particularly through our RE and Worship programme
- Read often to children, and give them opportunities to discuss and reflect. This includes both secular and religious texts, in particular the Bible
- We use the Votes for Schools programme to encourage debate and discussion
- We use the “What if …” programme to root our teaching and learning
Structures to support and develop spirituality:
- Opportunities are planned across our curriculum to develop awe and wonder, personal reflection and exploration
- Our reflective journals are used regularly as a focal point for reflection, and include RE and PSHE
- We have a planned programme for Collective Worship across the school. This maps out themes across the year, based on our school values.
- There is a daily act of collective worship taking different forms, and involving children
- Displays and pictures around the school continually celebrate and encourage reflection and spirituality
- Our RE curriculum is inspiring and motivating
- Visits and visitors support all our work
- We follow the format of “Windows, mirrors, doors” in our worship.
The act of Collective Worship occurs each morning and is led by the Senior Leadership team, Phase Leaders, the Faith and Values Lead, members of teaching staff or a local clergy member. The structure of worship is:
- Windows – a chance for children to look out at the world as it is now
- Teaching – direct teaching from the Christian faith (sometimes other faiths)
- Mirrors – a chance for children to reflect on what they have learnt for themselves
- Doors- a chance for children to consider how they will be changed when they leave the worship and how what they have learnt will impact on others
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 (this 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. They are able to enjoy quiet and stillness, they possess an active imagination, and show joy in creativity and discovering new skills.