The duty to promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children and young people is written within the National Curriculum and dates back to the 1944 education act. Of the four, spiritual development has proved to be the most difficult to define and therefore has in some places been watered down or quietly sidelined.
Spiritual development is about enabling the innermost essence of an individual to grow and flourish – in order to become more fully human, and will include opportunities to reflect inwardly, look at the world around them and to look beyond themselves and the world to explore the transcendent, including reflecting on God, life and faith.
At some points this will also mean dealing with some of the difficult, contentious and messy aspects of human experience – not all that is spiritual is good or to be encouraged, but these need to be acknowledged and addressed appropriately.
In church schools, in particular, opportunities to develop the spiritual should not be confined to collective worship or RE but must be planned for throughout the whole curriculum.
In addition there will be those spontaneous moments of wonder, mystery, illumination and joy that can never be planned for or anticipated and which need to be seized in all their fleeting glory.
Some useful resources/background reading:
The Spirited Arts – an annual competition for schools organised by NATRE http://www.natre.org.uk/about-natre/projects/spirited-arts/introduction/
Godly Play http://www.godlyplay.uk/
Children's Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters (2009) by Rebecca Nye Church House publishing ISBN 978-0-7151-4027-7
Creating a Multi-sensory Spiritual Garden in your school (2008) by Shahne Vickery Jumping Fish publication ISBN 978-0-9555611-6-7
‘Reflections – Strategies to support spiritual and moral development (2004) – Edited by Rosemary Rivett RE Today Services
Spiritual Dimension of childhood (2008) by Kate Adams, Brendan Hyde and Richard Woolley Jessica Kingsley Publishing ISBN 978-1-84310-602-9
The Spirit of the Child: Revised Edition by David Hay and Rebecca Nye Jessica Kingsley Publishing ISBN: 978-1-84310-371-4