Christian Character

‘Be the Light’ – Matthew 5:14

As a result of the trusting relationships between all members of the school community and embedded Christian Values in every aspect of our practice, pupils grow into respectful, resilient and compassionate young people who have an understanding and respect for diversity and difference together with a motivation to help others in their community and beyond. Throughout all that we do, we encourage our children to ‘shine’ in their own special ways.

‘Be the light means the be the best you can be’ – Hector

‘It means helping others and leading the way' - Dylan

‘It is a reminder that Jesus is there with us' - Jess

‘Be the light is about ensuring our children are nurtured so that they shine inside and out’ - Parent

Please see the links to the Diocese of Leeds and the Church of England websites and three key documents:



What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is part of what it makes us to be human. It is an aspect of the integrated whole of self rather than a particular singular component, and as such it is related to emotion, thought, psychology, physicality and perception. Although it has very much a personal and interior quality, spirituality is also practical and is both relational and outward focused. Spirituality is not static and growth and development in spirituality is part of the ongoing development of life.

We might easily think of spirituality in terms of disciplines and rhythms of living, but it is not bounded by practice. There are helpful catalysts to spiritual engagement, but spirituality is not confined to these, having resonance and pertinence in every aspect of our lives. Spirituality is not ‘religion’ in the contemporary use of the word; it is not limited to a set of religious practices, ethical rules or statements of dogma.

Spirituality recognises, celebrates, rejoices in and raises questions about:

  • self,
  • relations (ethical, social, psychological and emotional) with the other - from our closest engagements to our relationship with the whole of humanity (and its varied cultures and world views)
  • our relationship to the created order we inhabit and experience
  • our relationship with the Other.

The Christian tradition understands the overarching themes of Creation and Redemption (Salvation) as fundamental in understanding spirituality, Born out of love, God’s concern is for the joyous fulfilment of His good purposes for the whole of creation, and His action in Jesus Christ is for the healing and redeeming (and reconciliation) of brokenness in self, community and all creation, in relationship with Him.

Spirituality is fundamental in education, and the recognition and development of this aspect of human existence is vital in the encouraging of pupils to be more fully true to themselves, engaged with those around them (in community and world), engaged with that which is beyond them, and navigating their relationship to the created order.

It is difficult to put into words what ‘spirituality’ actually is because can be a unique feeling to each individual or a personal experience. Spirituality changes within people during their lifetime. It changes as life circumstances change. Spirituality is not the same as having a religion or faith; a person can be spiritual without having a particular faith.

At The Upper Wharfedale Primary Federation, we define spirituality as

‘Spirituality is invisible; it is something we feel inside ourselves. It is about awe and wonder, asking big questions, showing our love and care to others and celebrating life’s joys and achievements’

We consider the following areas when thinking about spirituality in our schools:

  • A sense of awe and wonder

  • A time to pause and reflect

  • Love and care for the living world

  • Ask big questions

  • Celebrating life’s joys and achievements

We consider the following areas when thinking about spirituality in our schools:

Awe and wonder

Our school environment and our setting creates perfect opportunities for those magical moments around us. The children love to see the spring time lambs and chickens grow in the farm across from school and enjoy taking a moment to pause for a rainbow or reflect on the tranquility of the river. Through our exciting school environment, we provide the children throughout the day a range of engaging and creative learning experiences. Our Ks1 children use their outdoor space to explore and express themselves and are provided with exciting experiences such as creating disgusting sandwiches to watching dinosaur eggs hatch and transform. In KS2 we create a wow environment of learning through or closely chosen science experiments and our Wow Openers to kick start our topic work. The children recently thought about how the land around the coast has changed over millions of years and what it might look like in the future. The children are given opportunities to explore the world around them through looking at other cultures, cookery and music. With the children recently creating their own music inspired by the sounds of China.

A time to pause and reflect

During the school day we have opportunities to pause and reflect. Our teacher puts an arrow in our books to give us feedback. We have time at the start of lessons to read and respond.

Once a week we have dedicated time to reflect on lifelong skills, we call these sessions ‘Learnology’.

During collective worship we end with a time to be still and think about the message of the assembly.

We have a willow dome next to our school which is a space we can use to sit and reflect during play time.

In the school entrance we have a prayer space and quiet space.

At the end of the day the children have an opportunity to reflect on the day and say a quiet prayer. In our EYFS area our children have a quite space to access during their independent learning.

When we go to our school field we build in time for children to reflect our environment and appreciate the calmness and tranquillity of an area of outstanding beauty.

Love and care for the living world

We have a real focus on outdoor learning and provide many opportunities for children to experience and learn about the outdoor world. Each child planted a hedge this year along the boundary of our school field and staff, governors and trustees planted trees.

We have plans to further develop our school field to make it a haven for wildlife. Part of our science curriculum we have nurtured butterflies and chicks and KS1 look after Neil their class snail. We plant vegetables and use the apples from our fruit tree which our school cook uses to provide our school dinners.

Creative play around the school environment is encouraged with children finding creative ways to build bug houses the school grounds. Children have created signs and posters reminding visitors to the area to respect our local environment and our older children recently wrote letters to the National Park Authority with suggestions of how to reduce the carbon footprint of the area.

We invite mums, dad’s and grandparents into school for lunch giving the opportunity for the children to show off their classroom and school environments.

Ask big questions

During PSHE/ RE lessons, we have opportunity to ask big questions about life. We also give opportunities and an encourage questions in all areas of the curriculum.

In collective worship we often discuss big questions such as ‘is our world a just world?’ ‘Is it important to always tell the truth?’

At the start of our topics we have opportunity to post questions about what we would like to learn.

Celebrating life’s joys and achievements

In our weekly celebration assemblies we present ‘shine awards’ to children who have shown one of our school values of love, kindness, thankfulness, trust or forgiveness. This highlights that we value attributes beyond the academic.

Throughout the school we remind children of our values and have a large display which shows the children who have upheld our values and vision ‘be the light’

We celebrate achievements made outside of school and give children opportunities to show precious items.  Staff show an interest in the children’s home life and give opportunities to share news from home and ask them about aspects of home life.   We have special days to celebrate   Christian festivals, such as Easter egg hunts and harvest festivals. We have school family days were we invite parents/carers in to share Sports Days and Leaver’s Assemblies. The children work together to earn a reward of a whole school day out or in.

Worship & prayer

Collective Worship is an integral part of life in school and we recognise the importance of making sure this special part of the school day is enjoyed by all members of the school community. To ensure that Collective Worship is valued, meaningful and enriching, we focus on a Christian Value each half term as well as important events within the Christian calendar. Our collective worship committee often support in leading and evaluating collective worship. They also help with worship times; writing prayers; setting up for worship each day and in occasionally leading our worship together.

Collective worship has an emphasis on Christianity however all sessions are conducted in a manner that is sensitive to everyone. We enjoy a daily act of Collective Worship together and hope to capture the children’s interest and imagination so that they will look forward to and participate fully in Collective Worship.

We often welcome governors, parents, volunteers and members of the local community to join worship, especially in our weekly ‘Praise Assembly’ where we enjoy handing out our shine awards to recognise the achievements of the children.

RE curriculum

We also actively study other faiths through a variety of first-hand experiences which enable our pupils to develop a good understanding of our multi-cultural society.

The Church

We have close links with our parish and local church, as well as with the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

We go to Church regularly throughout the year for services celebrating Harvest, Christmas, Easter and for our Leavers Service at the end of each academic year to which parents; families and other members of our community are always welcome.

Ministers from all different churches in the area also come into school regularly to lead our Worship.

We attend a special service at St Michaels Church which is led by the older children. All the children are invited to take part in the service, retelling the story of Jesus’s birth. Our family and friends come to the service and Reverend David is there too.

At Christmas time our youngest children in reception, Year 1 and Year 2 retell the nativity through drama, song and dance. All of our families are invited to join us for this special occasion.

Ash Wednesday
On Ash Wednesday the Reverend visits our school and leads a special collective worship. They tell us about why Christians mark this day and invite anyone to receive a blessing and special cross mark on their forehead which is made using burnt palm trees.

We attend a special Easter service. During the service the older children retell the Easter story. We end the service by taking time to reflect on the life of Jesus and why Easter is such as special time for Christians.

Children in Year 5 go to Netherside Hall to take part in Rewind to Easter, they are joined with their Year 5 friends from the federation.

Every year we attend a remembrance service at church. During the service we recount poems and stories of people who have fought in wars and take time to think about those who have lost their lives as a result of fighting and wars.

Big Question Thinking

We incorporate elements of Philosophy for Children, known as P4C, in to our curriculum. During lessons such as RE or PSHE, the teacher and children collaborate with each other in a philosophical enquiry, to grow in understanding, not only of the material world, but also of the personal and ethical world around them. It enables children to explore their own values and to share these thoughts with their peers. They learn negotiation and tolerance and become articulate, confident individuals through active discussion.

We are also passionate about encouraging children to think about the world around them by asking questions about what they see, hear and experience. We do this by thinking of 'big questions'; this approach allows children to acquire and embed a range of skills across the curriculum areas through one motivating topic. As with Philosophical enquiry -there are no right or wrong answers to.

What would your answer be questions such as: What is Freedom? or What does God look like? or Is everyone equal?
The questions posed really make the children (and adults) think!