Research helps to promote spiritual development in schools

12 October 2017

New research out today aims to help schools promote spiritual development in their pupils, against the growing demand for academic excellence.

Positive spiritual development is an obligation on all schools and required by law. But how are they to do this in an educational climate where the primary focus is on performance in tests, exams and league tables?

A ground-breaking book Canterbury Christ Church University’s National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER), Lessons in Spiritual Development, aims to help education professionals by showing how ten leading Christian-ethos secondary schools have prioritized the spiritual development of their students.

Each chapter tells the story of how one of the schools approaches this responsibility, showing the variety of innovation and creativity taking place within spiritual education. It offers wisdom from practitioners on the opportunities and challenges that exist, as well as inspiration to other schools wishing to improve their provision for spiritual development.

Richard Parrish, Head of Archbishop Tenison’s Church of England High School in Croydon (one of the ten schools) said: “This unique book reflects a remarkable piece of research: ten schools for whom spiritual development matters particularly, a researcher who struck gold with her close and insightful attention to significant detail and a project which was ground-breaking in its conception and clarity of purpose. Each chapter has its own exciting story to tell!”

In his Foreword, Bishop Stephen Conway, Chair of the Church of England Board of Education, writes: “All those seeking to promote an education which leads to the flourishing of our nation's children and young people will be enriched by the stories of these ten leading schools.” 

Dr Bob Bowie, Director of NICER, added: “In today’s climate, it is so easy for the spiritual side of children’s lives to be squeezed out by the demand for academic performance. It has been a revelation to discover through our research the creative ways in which good schools make sure this doesn’t happen.”

One of the many students that Dr Casson interviewed during the course of the research had this to say: “You can change the world with your actions if you put faith before everything.”

Lessons in Spiritual Development is written by NICERS’s Dr Ann Casson and Professor Trevor Cooling Today and Leslie J. Francis from the University of Warwick. The book will be launched at the annual conference of the Anglican Academy and Secondary School Heads (AASSH) (October12 2017), where Dr Ann Casson will also address conference to share the results of her research in ten leading Christian-ethos secondary schools and lead a Talking Heads session with some of the head teachers from the ten schools involved in the book. Ann spent three weeks in each school carefully documenting their approach to promoting spirituality. The schools each have a unique story to tell.

Notes to Editors:

  • Lessons in Spiritual Development: Learning from Leading Christian-ethos secondary schools by Ann Casson, Trevor Cooling and Leslie J. Francis is published by Church House Publishing.
  • The National Institute for Christian Education Research is an internationally-renowned research centre in the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. NICER worked in partnership with the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit on this project.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • Over 94% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2015/16 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 23:29:00