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? What do we know about what happens in schools to support young people’s spiritual development?

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.”