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Spiritual Development

 

Our Spiritual Development programme is about provoking curiosity in young people, creating safe spaces for questions, dialogue and engagement with spirituality and religion as part of your school's SMSC requirements.

 

Our work in schools doesn't just involve assembly or curriculum input, we also create art installations and interactive displays in common areas like atriums and corridors. These spaces allow for much more innovation, offering opportunities for students to explore ideas and to interact with them during breaks in the school day.

We also offer whole and half day programmes for a year group to focus on a particular theme, either within the RE curriculum or as a component of student's 'spiritual, moral, social and cultural development' (SMSC).

Fostering the spiritual development of students is part of a school's obligation to promote SMSC, where spiritual development is defined as:

  • the ability to be reflective about their own beliefs, religious or otherwise, that inform their perspective on life and their interest in and respect for different people’s faiths, feelings and values
  • the sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
  • the use of imagination and creativity in their learning willingness to reflect on their experiences.

(School Inspection Handbook, September 2015).

Spiritual development is an important challenge for any young person whatever their beliefs. It allows them opportunity to explore deeper ideas about themselves and the world like equality and justice. It also gives them space to think about difficult topics like death and forgiveness in a safe and appropriate space. It foster curiosity and deepens respect for other's beliefs and faith.

These resources and programmes are installed and run by experienced Youthscape staff. Our commitment is for Luton to become a leading example of how a diverse and multi-faith community can help young people grow up with a strong curiosity in deep and important themes, and a healthy respect for others and their views. Some of our current work includes:

 

Breathe

type of project: interactive installation
theme:
relating to self, others, world, God
suitable for:
Years 7 to 11
space required:
hall or atrium
uses:
RE curriculum, voluntary participation in breaks etc

 

Breathe is twelve different zones on a large multi-colour floor mat, giving students activities to explore about themselves, other people, the world and faith in God. Over the course of an hour, each student can move around the mat to explore the different zones at their own pace. Each zone is accompanied by an audio track giving instruction for the activity, which students play on an iPod they are given at the start of the session.

Breathe is suitable for pupils of all faiths and none. It explains something of how Christians answer some of life's big questions, but encourages pupils – and provides space for them – to make up their own minds. It enables pupils to both learn about religion and to learn from religion.

You can learn more about Breathe here.

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Grow

type of project: interactive installation
theme:
forgiveness
suitable for:
Years 9 to 11
space required:
hall or atrium
uses:
RE curriculum

 

This is a powerful RE mini-conference exploring themes of forgiveness. Based on the true story of a boy called Martin who was stabbed on the way home from school because of a ‘dirty look’ he gave the wrong group of people and his family’s reaction to this, Grow explores the radical gesture of forgiveness Martin’s mother had towards her son’s killer. Following a presentation of the story and a chance to explore the difference characters, students participate in smaller group sessions to investigate and reflect on different ideas about forgiveness. Without offering simplistic solutions, Grow guides students through ideas of forgiveness and is relevant not only to their understanding of the religious concept, but to their everyday lives.

 

School lockers - what happens when we die?

type of project: interactive installation
theme:
death and the afterlife
suitable for:
Years 7 to 9
space required:
school corridor
uses:
RE curriculum, SMSC development

 

School corridors are full of lockers, but here's one with a difference... inside each door is an art installation providing playful but provocative questions about death and the afterlife. The installation doesn't offer an answer - there may be nothing after death - but it helps students begin to think about the different ideas offer by religions. The project works best as an installation over the course of a week, and our team can provide supporting assemblies and RE lessons. The project has been developed with Key Stage 3 in mind.

 

Open

type of project: interactive lesson
theme:
values and purpose
suitable for:
Years 10 to 13
space required:
classroom
uses:
RE curriculum, SMSC development

 

Students gather in small groups around a mysterious box. Inside are eight cloth bags of different sizes and shapes, each with a number. Inside each of these bags are different activities and challenges exploring eight crucial themes for a young person's spiritual development. The activities are thought-provoking, fun and engaging, but always have a deeper purpose. Each student has an iPod which provides a backing track and instructions for the activities. The experience is self-guided, with students able to move through the different activities at a pace that suit them. At the end of the lesson, there is space for the class to reflect together on the experience and talk about what they've learned.

Open looks at eight themes: Meaning, Values, Purpose, Forgiveness, Death, Responsibility, Questions and Hypocrisy. Each theme uses a practical activity to open up the topic, with an mp3 introducing the subject, raising some open questions and introducing some relevant thinking and wisdom from Christianity too. The resource is specifically written for use in a multi-faith school environment, and as such is carefully crafted to be accessible to pupils from any faith background.

Open was initially developed as a resource for 16-19's but also works well with students in Keystage 4. You can learn more about Open here.

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Unplugged - a silent experience

type of project: whole day excursion
theme:
self-reflection and self-awareness
suitable for:
Years 9 to 10
space required:
none
uses:
RE curriculum, SMSC development

 

Youthscape has developed this unique project with The Monastery of Christ our Saviour, a Benedictine community in north Bedfordshire. The aim is to help students of all faiths and none explore the power of silence and reflection.

The days begins with the short trip to the Monastery – a new experience for most. The group attempt to sit in silence for just a few minutes but this task is usually difficult, if not impossible. Having found the idea of silence challenging, the group meet some of the members of the community to hear about how they practice silence as part of their Christian faith. There are opportunities to explore the gardens and practice self-reflection. Students commit to putting their phones aside for the whole day to separate themselves from the normal stream of social media posts. Finally, as the day concludes, the group attempt to sit together in silence for 20 minutes - and in sharp contrast to the beginning of the day - the task is not only achieved but profoundly moving and inspiring.

Unplugged is for small groups of 10-15 students and is one of our most popular and highly regarded experiences.

 

Remembrance Day

type of project: interactive installation
theme:
loss, sacrifice, war
suitable for:
Years 7 to 13
space required:
hall, atrium, outdoor space
uses:
RE curriculum, History, SMSC development

 

This project centres around an interactive art installation that is placed in a shared space within the school in the weeks preceding Remembrance Day on November 11th. A mound of grass is the centre piece, setting the scene for students to place a poppy as their own act of remembrance. RE lessons and assemblies offer an in-depth exploration of the theme with stories of those who have given their lives in war.

As the grass fills with poppies during the week, it becomes the focus of attention and interest for students, providing questions and reflection. On Remembrance Day itself, some schools opt to hold a short moment of silence together around the installation as a final act of reflection and respect.

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Getting more information

If you have any further questions about our spiritual development resources, please contact our Christian schools work specialist David Walford.

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