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Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development and its contribution of religious education

It is the responsibility of the whole school to promote Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development, the overall purpose of which is:-

…the training of good human beings, purposeful and wise, themselves with a vision of what it is to be human and the kind of society that makes that possible”.

[Hansard, 2006]

Bearing in mind that this is an endeavour for the whole school and a broad range of subjects in the curriculum, it can still be clearly seen that Religious Education has a significant and distinctive contribution to make to all four dimensions, particularly spiritual development. It also makes a particular contribution to understanding cultural diversity through developing understanding of religions and beliefs.

The RE curriculum should promote pupils’:-

Spiritual development

Through enabling them to look within themselves, at human relationships, at the wider world and at the vision of the divine or the ultimate reality which some people may call God, and develop characteristics- qualities of character to help face life’s  challenges and opportunities.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote spiritual development through:

  • Exploring the idea that each person has a spirit which can be nurtured or withered;
  • discussion and reflection on key concerns of human existence such as the origins of the universe, life after death, good and evil, beliefs about God and values such as justice, honesty and truth;
  • focussing upon values which have been recognised throughout history as having enduring worth;
  • Exploring and learning about key concepts, experiences and beliefs that are at the heart of religious practice and showing how they may be expressed through the creative and expressive arts, and how they connect with scientific understanding ;
  • consideration of how religions perceive the value of human beings, and their relationships with one another, with the natural world, and with God;
  • exploring, using and explaining religious language that is used to describe spiritual experiences;
  • creating time and space in lessons for wonder and reflection;
  • emphasising the value of positive relationships and developing a sense of community; encouragement to pupils to develop their own views and ideas on religious and spiritual issues.

Moral development

Through enabling them to take an increasingly thoughtful view of what is right and wrong, to recognise the needs and interests of others as well as themselves, recognise personal obligations and make reasoned and informed judgements, so that they can live in ways which respect the well-being and rights of each person.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote moral development through:

  • emphasising the value of diversity and of engaging with issues of truth and justice, as well as identifying and combating discrimination;
  • exploring the influence of family, friends and media on moral choices and the ways in which society is influenced by beliefs, teachings, sacred texts and guidance from religious leaders;
  • exploring what is of ultimate worth to believers through studying the key aspects of beliefs and teachings from religion and philosophy on values and ethical codes of practice;
  • promoting racial and religious respect, community cohesion and personal integrity through studying a range of ethical issues, including those that focus on justice;
  • highlighting the importance of rights and responsibilities and developing a sense of conscience and the need to anticipate the consequences our actions;
  • stressing the understanding that the freedom to choose and hold faith and belief and non belief is protected in law, and that people having a different belief or faith to oneself should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour.

Social development

Through enabling them to relate to others successfully, and understanding  the responsibilities and rights of being a member of various family, local, national and global communities, so that they can play a full and fulfilling part in their community and society.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote social development through:

  • consideration of the influence of beliefs upon lifestyles, actions and behaviours;
  • encouraging acceptance of diversity of opinion and practice;
  • exploring social issues from religious perspectives, recognising both the common ground and the diversity of viewpoints within and between religions, and non-religious stances;
  • enabling pupils to articulate their own and others’ ideas on the above in open dialogue and in a consultative way;
  • provision of activities for working collaboratively.

Cultural development

Through enabling them to develop a sense of their own place and identity in society, to be conscious of their own and other cultures and developing attitudes and understanding which can lead to appreciation of local, regional, national and global cultures.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote cultural development through:

  • enabling pupils to encounter people, literature, the creative and expressive arts and resources from differing cultures;
  • exploring the relationship between religion and cultures and how religions and beliefs contribute to cultural identity and practices;
  • promoting racial and inter-faith harmony and respect for all, combating prejudice and discrimination, contributing positively to community cohesion and promoting awareness of how co-operation can support the pursuit of the common good;
  • advancing the notion that ‘culture’ is not static or rigid, that there can be plural cultures even within one religious tradition, and that people can move in and out of, and between cultures;
  • building bridges between those of different cultural and religious backgrounds, so as to act to combat intolerance and extremism.