All schools have a responsibility to ensure that there are opportunities for all members of the community to understand and develop their own spirituality whilst respecting that of others.
At St Michael’s motivation comes from Christian authority. This ensures the provision of an outstanding education that is founded on belief in Christ and a commitment to the gospel.
Christian spirituality is centred on an acceptance of transcendence - that is, God beyond humanity - to be worshipped; acknowledging God as creator and ourselves growing in our humanity; a belief in a spiritually empowered life and ‘knowing God’. Thus Christian spirituality is at the heart of the church school’s ethos. It can be witnessed in Christian values such as unconditional love, joy from inner security, peace from well-being, forgiveness, reconciliation in healing relationships, justice based on equality tempered with mercy and respect shown to all members of the community and environment. In very simple terms it is about identifying and grasping the ‘wow’ moment, allowing pupils the time and space as individuals to be still, to reflect and process.
As a Church of England High School we have a deep sense of Christian community and the spiritual dimension of our life together is of vital importance and underpins all our activities.
“I came that they may have life – life in all its’ fullness” John 10:10
In its most fundamental sense, spirituality is about becoming fully human, fully alive. Traditionally, spirituality has been associated with God, prayer and church but permeates every aspect of living and so also has to do with creativity, art, music and serving others. In this sense, it affects the whole life of the school and all members of the school community. The Headteacher, together with the Governors and local clergy are responsible for the spiritual life of St Michael’s, although all members of staff have an important part to play here.
We believe we educate the child in Body, Mind and Spirit and it is the ‘spirit part’ that is hard to quantify although most of us can sense when we have ‘enriched the spirit of a child’; found in that moment of awe and wonder.
Relationships are key:
- Relationship with ourselves - how we use our talents, skills, emotions and what we think about ourselves and our life.
- Relationships with others - how we relate to other people be they children, staff, parents, governors, visitors and the wider community.
- Relationships with the environment and the awesomeness of God’s creation
- Relationship with God
We introduce children to new and different experiences and opportunities in order to ‘grab the moment’ and see the world ‘in the eye of the beholder’ with those ‘first ever experiences’ – skiing, trips abroad without Mum or Dad, fieldtrips into the outdoors, a new game or sport, an experiment of discovery in science, the joy in solving a maths equation, creating something beautiful from nothing, that first time a passage from a book or play makes sense or reading poem that is moving and wonderful.
Giving members of the school community time, space and stillness to build a relationship with God, find for themselves the person God wants them to be. Allowing children to make mistakes along the way and know forgiveness when they are truly sorry. It is about promoting excellence in Religious Education and excellence in collective worship, worship that is special and distinctive, inspiring, invitational and inclusive – that time in a busy day where we can meet with God and share our life with him.
We are blessed with a beautiful chapel in the Armstrong Centre which has been designed to create a quiet place within the school for pupils and staff. It is available before and after school for private reflection and is used for various activities including a weekly prayer meeting, lunchtime services led by local clergy and Eucharists at least once a month. Tutor groups are offered the opportunity to conduct their collective worship in the chapel. Pupils talk positively about the atmosphere and opportunity for reflection. There is also an outdoor worship area in the quad used for events such as ‘carols in the quad’ during advent.
In addition to daily worship and whole school events, there are other opportunities for spiritual development within the school. We have a series of Christian Values Enrichment days that involve all students through the year. The Discovery Club meets during lunch time. Pupils in Years 7-9 are warmly invited to play games, study the Bible and ask questions about the Christian faith. Pupils in Year 10 and 11 are invited to various groups and activities for discussions about the Christian faith and what the Bible has to say about issues affecting us today, including the ‘Bible Study’ group.
Christian concerts and other youth events are advertised and young people are encouraged to bring in information about activities in local churches. A retreat day is held every summer for pupils involved in Discovery Club and Bible Study group.