Ann-Marie Brandom, Mike Poole and Andrew Wright
To achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) new teachers must demonstrate that they can 'plan opportunities to contribute to pupils' personal, Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development' (DfEE 1998: 12). This chapter deals solely with the topic of spirituality. Why? Because in the first instance, although there are issues around definitions of what constitutes moral, social and cultural development, there are very specific difficulties in defining spirituality, not least being the fact that it is not necessarily a subject of comfortable public discourse. Second, although there are resources to support the delivery of spirituality across the curriculum, they do not address the issue of teacher confidence in handling spirituality in the classroom.
The requirement to be able to 'plan opportunities to contribute to pupils' personal, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development' (DfEE 1998: 12) reflects government concern that 'insufficient attention has been paid explicitly to the spiritual … aspects of pupils' development' (DfE 1994: 9). The 1988 Education Reform Act requires the promotion of 'the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at school and of society' (DES 1988: 1). This requirement is reinforced by the Office for Standards in Education's (Ofsted) Framework for the Inspection of Schools (Ofsted 1993a) which expects inspectors to report on the provision made by schools for the spiritual development of children.
What exactly is 'spiritual development'? Is it merely a rhetorical reference to the conglomeration of experiences that constitute postmodern 'identity'? Or does it have a more substantial and critical role to play in the education of our pupils? We suggest that spiritual development is at the heart of the educational process since authentic education is inextricably bound up with ultimate questions of the meaning and purpose of life.