Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development
Spiritual Development involves providing children with the opportunity to appreciate the non-materialistic aspects of human nature, exploring beliefs and values, experiencing feelings including awe and wonder; learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; developing imagination and creativity and reflecting on experiences.
This can be achieved through the curriculum, between lessons and specific activities.
We have recognised the importance of creating an enriching, diverse and stimulating environment to promote spiritual development.
Tending the allotment, Year 5 and 6, Spring 2018
We have developed an allotment area for children to get close to nature and appreciate where our food comes from. Nature is an important aspect of our spiritual development programme because it enables children to get in tune with the essence of life and growth. Here, our children are tending to our allotment.
Year 5 and 6 learn to appreciate the value of our school environment, Spring 2018.
Spiritually awareness is also about appreciating nature and recognising the importance of caring for our environment for the benefit of others.
We also have developed a wildlife garden and pond to support the curriculum our enables children to appreciate the variety of plant and animal life. Our pond contains the rare and protected newt.
Wildlife area, Summer 2018
We have tried to make our environment as stimulating as possible especially at break times. Our willow dome provides a have to develop children’s imagination and creativity.
Encouraging imagination and creative play; the Willow Dome, 2018
Early Years play area, 2018
Learning between lessons is a means of offering children a rich and diverse curriculum including opportunities for spiritual development. The concept of learning between lessons is not new to us. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces are carefully designed to offer these opportunities.
Displays play an important role in this especially the thought provoking questions and comments.
Creative thinking as part of our spiritual development programme, Summer 2018.
Reception class display - considering Mr McGregor’s feelings, Summer 2018.
Symbolism, Summer 2018
Creating a stimulating and thought-provoking environment is a key aspect to our Spiritual Development programme. Open ended questions play an important role in this.
Touch and feel display, 2017/2018
Investing in high quality, simple but thought provoking resources such as this world map helps broaden the children’s minds and encourages thinking. This unconventional map of the world gives children permission to think differently and creatively.
Thinking creatively, 2018
Philosophy for Children is another means of developing children’s social, moral, spiritual and cultural development. This is where children come together and discuss or create their own philosophical questions. They then choose one question that is the focus of a philosophical enquiry, or dialogue.
The teacher supports the children in their thinking, reasoning and questioning, as well as the way the children speak and listen to each other in the dialogue. After the enquiry, the children and teacher reflect on the quality of the thinking.
Philosophy for Children is intended to be a regular activity so children can develop their skills and understanding over time. The role of the teacher is crucial to ensuring quality dialogue and progress, as well as integration with the curriculum.
Philosophy for Children, 2018.
Questions to make people think used with our Year 3 and 4 class this year have included :
Year 3 and 4 used optical illusions to illustrate how we may see the same thing but have a different perspective, 2017- 2018.
Opportunities for children to express themselves and be creative is an important aspect of spiritual development. This means allowing children to have opportunities to be hands on.
Children are encouraged to learn between lessons and create music,2018.
Learning between lessons can be supported by more directly planned opportunities for spiritual development within lessons. Here, our Reception children partake in the ‘forest schools’ concept.
The forest school concept, Spring 2018
This is where children learn outside and appreciate the awe and wonder of nature. It is also an ideal opportunity for them to develop life skills. This year, the children sat in a circle around pit fire singing songs and watching a fire start from a spark and toasting bananas wrapped in foil.
This year, with the help of the local community, we planted trees to develop our own woodland area that will support our commitment to the ‘forest schools’ concept.
Growing our own woodland area, Spring 2018
We have set up a Montessori setting to enhance and complement our current classroom based provision particularly for those children who learn differently or who require lots of repetition and practical ‘hands on’ learning experiences. We know some children need a very systematic approach and our Montessori Classroom caters specifically for these needs.
Many of the materials are designed to have an inbuilt control of error. This helps children correct their own work improving and bolstering their self-esteem.
Our Montessori environment is a place of order and calm. We recognise that the emotional well-being of children is of great importance and provides a haven for many children who need a space and a different approach.
Many of our children require a sensory curriculum for their day-to-day learning, but also their emotional well-being. This is particular important for our children on the autistic spectrum.
The Montessori curriculum caters for children’s emotional and sensory needs.
Sensory activities are designed to develop and refine children’s senses, sensory integration, balance, coordination, concentration, independence, visual and auditory discrimination and fine motors skills. These indirectly prepare children for reading and writing.
Children who may find reading, writing and maths difficult run an increased risk of low self-esteem and poor mental health. Emotional well-being is important to us so if we can identify barriers such as poor sensory skills we can help children accelerate their learning and improve their emotional health.
A sensory curriculum catering for children’s emotional needs.
To cater for children's spiritual development, children need an opportunity to express their views on matters that are important. This can benefit their emotional and spiritual development. Class Councils meet regularly and school council meets on a weekly basis. The children are taught to consider the impact of their decisions with a view of benefiting the many and not the few.
The School Council notice board with interactive Tell Us Box, Spring 2018
Spiritual Development involves giving children opportunities to express themselves creatively. This can be through various media including music, dance, art or words.
An opportunity to thinking through a different perspective, 2018
Religious Education can also provide opportunities for children to think spiritually. In this context. Spiritual development is not religious but the RE curriculum can provide opportunities for children to think beyond the material and literal.
Spiritual Development also includes enabling children to be curious and ask questions, Autumn 2017
Assemblies also offer our children opportunities for spiritual development. Assembly time includes opportunities for silence and reflection time. Singing songs children enjoy is really important as well as creating a sense of belong which assembly time includes.
Assembly time is when the whole school comes together to thank, celebrate and to receive wisdom or inspiration. We try to make them as uplifting as possible through carefully selected themes, stimulus and music.
Assembly time includes an act of collective worship.
Assembly theme offering the opportunity for spiritual development, Summer 2018
Each class contributes towards planning an Assembly time and Collective Worship. This year, Year 3 and 4 chose a nature as a theme close to their hearts. They chose tranquil music to set the tone and used images to evoke emotion and connection with nature.
Artwork and music are ideal opportunities to help children develop spiritually and think beyond the literal and visual. The ability to interpret works of art is an indicator of spiritual health. In this example, children are encouraged to interpret the scene
Artwork used in Assembly time to encourage interpretation, Summer 2018
Sometimes opportunities just have to be seized to experience the feeling of awe and wonder. We encourage children to go out in all weathers. These are moments of joy to savour.
The awe and wonder of snow, Winter 2018.
Godly play is a special way of teaching children stories form the Bible. Central to the technique is creating an ambiance where children are allowed to consider ‘what if’ questions and ‘I wonder’ statements.
Godly Play, ‘The Story of the Story’, Winter 2018.
The right ethos or school climate is required to enable spiritual growth to flourish. A calm, orderly and welcoming environment, where children feel they are valued and respected, encourages spiritual growth. Walking around our school, you will notice this. There is a calmness that is routinely commented on by visiting parents and teachers.
Our approach places value on people and creates opportunities for relationships to flourish as opposed to an oppressive ethos that fosters conflict and resentment and self-preservation.
Teaching style is vitally important in creating opportunities for spiritually growth. Teachers encourage questioning and curiosity allowing time and space to encourage ‘why’, how’, ‘where’ and ‘what would happen if?’ questions during the course of a lesson.
'If you were one of these pebbles, which one would you be?’
Opportunities to elicit emotional responses also contributes towards spiritual growth e.g. awe, wonder, intrigue, anticipation, appreciation, empathy, love, compassion, curiosity and pride.
Example video to foster awe and wonder
Children are encouraged to respond to a piece of instrumental music including noticing what instruments they can hear, suggesting what it might represent or remind them of, what story do they think it tells, what emotions does it reflect.
In music lessons children are given opportunities to compose a piece of music that reflects an emotion, mood, an event or story.
Music can also accompany guided imagery giving children the opportunity to immerse themselves in a world of possibilities and imagination.
Alongside this, valuing and appreciating stillness and silence is also very important in developing children's spiritual growth. This involves giving children time to sit still, reflect and think about something. Assembly time is an ideal opportunity within the school day but it can equally and powerfully be used during class lessons.
Children are encouraged to observe closely for fine detail. Video clips, artwork and photographs are routinely used for this. Questions teachers might ask include :
Using artwork to stimulate spiritual growth; 'How might she be thinking?'
We recognise that self-worth, giving praise and making children feel special contributes to a positive ethos but also models the spiritual attributes we wish the children to acquire. Taking a genuine interest in children through conversation between lessons and genuine verbal praise is really important in achieving spiritual growth.
We have a weekly Assembly time where children's birthdays are celebrated. They are also given the opportunity to share their achievements with the school including achievements from outside school.
Moral development is the opportunity for children to learn what is right and wrong, to respect the law; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues and offer reasoned views.
This is achieved in a number of ways including discussion and debate, specific lessons and assembly time. Philosophy for Children and SMART Thinking are two programmes we use that can add to children’s moral development in a meaningful and relevant context.
Starting point for a class discussion to support moral development.
Children learn from the outset that there are school rules and ways to behave. They learn the reason for rules and how they benefit the community.
An image used by a pupil in Year 4 to support work on moral development, 2018
The school curriculum supports moral development through whole school assemblies, moral guidance and support from adults working in the school and class lessons.
A thought provoking image used in assembly regarding discrimination, 2018
The children learn about the history of the Old Testament and Moses and the 10 commandments and how and they reflect laws today.
The children also learn about morals form the New Testament which talks more in terms of vales and attributes such as love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The school’s values are embodied in the phrase ‘following in the footsteps of Jesus’. There is a strong emphasis on moral development within the Christian context.
Christian values on which Christians set their moral compass, 2018.
We have a clear and consistently implemented Promoting Positive Behaviour Policy. Children learn there are consequences to their actions, but are also given the opportunity to improve their behaviour. Discussion with children on a one-to-one basis is integral for teaching moral development.
We use stories and real life examples to teach children the difference between right and wrong. Staff are expected to model this behaviour at all times.
Stories are used both whole school assembly time and class time. For example, assembly themes this year that have contributed to moral development include; what can we learn from Noah, the story of Adam and Eve, Moses and the 10 commandments, honesty and dishonesty, personal responsibility, dealing with temptation and moral dilemmas.
Aesop's fables are also used as part of our Collective Worship and Assembly themes that can reinforce and support moral development.
Aesop's fables used to support moral development, 2017/18
Our School Council chose the theme of bullying as part of a topic and shared their ideas with the school in an assembly.
The School Council planned an assembly to help children understand what bullying is about.
We also use moral dilemmas to stimulate class discussion. The teacher facilitates the discussion to challenge children's thinking towards a moral way of thinking.
Moral dilemmas, Key Stage 2.
This aspect of the curriculum enables children to develop and use a range of social skills. It also allows children to appreciate diverse viewpoints, respect the views and beliefs of others. participate, volunteer and cooperate and resolve conflict.
Social skills are learnt and taught. This means children learn social skills in context from the people around them and are taught where there are gaps in their skills or understanding. Adults in the school have a crucial role in modelling the social skills we wish our children to acquire.
To support social development we have created ‘communication friendly’ spaces around the school that encourage positive and production interaction between children. Adults skilfully intervene and provide timely guidance.
The willow dome and tyres enables to learn to play, communicate, cooperate and share. Adults support this process, guide the children and model conflict resolution.
Communication friendly spaces designed to encourage social interaction and social skills.
At the far end of the field we have tried to make a diverse and interesting communication friendly environment. The dens and tyres provide creative play opportunities for children to practise their social skills.
Communication friendly spaces designed to encourage social interaction and social skills.
The Early Years Play area has been specifically designed to promote the development of communication and social skills.
Communication friendly spaces designed to encourage social interaction and social skills.
We also build into our curriculum a range of experiences we can teach social skills. Reception children are taught how to eat together and share snack time and take turns. They are taught manners and how to say please and thank you. They learn to clear up after themselves and how to eat with cutlery. Role play areas also promote communication and social skills.
Role play areas are designed to encourage social interaction and social skills.
SMART thinking is a specific programme we use to help children understand different social scenarios. This involves children being presented with a visual scene that children are expected to consider what is going on from every perspective and then to agree the most appropriate solution.
SMART Thinking scenario used to support moral and social development.
The Montessori curriculum has as one of its areas of learning, activities designed to teach practical life skills and social skills including how to lay a table.
Our Montessori curriculum has a range of practical life skills activities including laying a table, 2018.
We have also built into our curriculum the opportunity for all ages to experience several overnight stays or residential trips away from home. This includes our Reception children.
This is our 'away from home' learning programme :
· Reception : Sleepover in the school hall (Summer term)
· Key Stage 1 : A night in a museum/library (Spring term)
· Lower Key Stage 2 : Camping at Danbury Outdoor Centre (Summer term)
· Upper Key Stage 2 : Camping at Mersea Outdoor Centre (Summer term)
· Upper Key Stage 2 : Residential stay in the Isle of Wight (Autumn term)
These opportunities also give the children opportunities to develop resilience, perseverance, courage, faith, cooperation and teamwork.
Learning Away from Home, Year 2 stayed overnight in the library.
There are numerous opportunities for learning together throughout the day. Adults share clear expectations of how to work together rather than leaving it to chance. Sometimes social skills need to be modelled, shown, scripted and practised.
Social skills are best learnt in a nurturing environment.
We run a programme of extra-curricular activities to enable children to mix with other age groups and develop social skills. This is an important aspect of our planned curriculum for social development. We also have a reading buddy system where younger children are paired up with older children once a week.
Extra - curricular activities include :
We have hosted and taken part in a number of competitive matches with other schools. This has included boys and girls teams and Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Schools we have played against or visited include Cressing, Silverend, Powers Hall, St Margaret’s and Lyons Hall.
More than half of the children have now represented the school this academic year.
All the children at our school are taught to win and lose graciously and shake hands with the opposition afterwards. Our children then invite them to refreshments.
This aspect of the curriculum enables children to explore, respect and appreciate cultural influences and diversity. It allows children the opportunity to appreciate the role of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and Britain’s parliamentary system. It is also about participating in cultural opportunities so that they gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of people as well developing positive attitudes towards difference.
Religious Education is an ideal opportunity for children to learn about the diversity of faiths around the world and within our own country. Here the children look at the global influence of Christianity around the world.
Studying diversity within Christianity, 2018
In July 2017, we took the whole school to the world Paralympic games in London. The purpose of the trip for our children to recognise that we live in country that values and recognises the talents of people with Special Needs and Disabilities. This helped children develop positive attitudes towards disability and that disability is no barrier to achievement.
Our school trip to the Para-Olympic Games, July 2017
It also gave the children an important insight into the cultural and ethnic diversity of the other schools who attended on the day.
Souvenir shirt donated to the school and worn by one of the stewards at the event, Autumn 2017
Children learn about democracy and parliamentary system through the School Council. Each Class votes for a representative who carries forward the view of the class to seek change in a democratic way that is for the good of the whole rather than the individual. The School Council has many recognised achievements over the year including amendments to the school dinner menus, raising money to replace the headphones and raising money for charity.
The School Council; democracy in action.
The Tell Us Box is designed to help children learn about democracy as part of the School Council. Their suggestions are considered on a weekly basis and the elected school members respond. The school Council meets on a weekly basis and then reports back to the Headteacher to seek his views.
Learning about our royal family and cultural heritage.
This year our Key Stage 2 children learnt about our monarchy and celebrated the wedding of Prince Harry with a themed dinner menu. Some children even dressed up for the occasion.
This mosaic of the queen is made up of tiny pixels designed by the children who worked with a software designer.
Cultural development through ICT.
All our children learn French from Year 1. It is taught by a specialist teacher who has a passion for teaching a foreign language which helps instil positive attitudes.
French is taught from Year 1, 2018
An example of the standard of written French in Year 6, 2018
Carefully chosen images used in lessons and Assembly time can contribute to children's understanding and appreciation of diversity.
An image used to support cultural development, respect and appreciation, 2018.
Assemblies also contribute to cultural development. Here our children learn about Rama and Sita and the festival of Sita.
The story of Rama ans Sita used in an Assembly, 2017.
Every two years, we take the whole school to experience a traditional pantomime – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in Chelmsford.
Whole school trip to the pantomime, Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, Autumn 2017
Food technology is firmly on our curriculum by a specialist teacher. The children are taught about food from around the world. This year, they learnt how to make a Thai curry and where all the ingredients originated.
Cooking dishes from around the world, Autumn 2017
Other highlights in our Cultural Development Programme includes :
Over 95% of parents feel the school has the balance right between teaching the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and providing wider experiences including social, moral and character development.
Anonymous Annual Parent Survey, 2017.