Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Research Student: Peter Hemming

School life, faith and culture: exploring religion and spirituality in children's everyday spaces

Photo of Peter Hemming

The aim of my research is to investigate the role of religion and spirituality in the social dynamics of everyday school spaces, and it’s significance for children, parents, teachers and school leaders, and the State (and how this role varies between two different school and community contexts).

The role of religion in the public sphere has always been an issue of great controversy and this continues to be the case in Britain today. The debate about state-funded faith schools is currently raging, with government commitments to increase the number of state-funded Muslim schools, Christian secondary schools, and those based on other faiths where there is demand from communities. This has reinforced fears about ethnic and religious segregation and underlined concerns about citizenship and national identity issues. But religion and spirituality is not just of relevance for faith schools, as all state schools are required to provide for pupil's 'spiritual development'. The current research aims to explore the role of religion and spirituality in the everyday spaces of the primary school and the part that they play in socio-spatial processes. It will seek to use a mixed method qualitative case-study approach to explore the views and experiences of the main stake-holders in the schooling process, including teachers, parents, the State, and particularly children, whose voices have been missing from debates on these issues. This will offer some much-needed empirical work to what are currently mainly theoretical and political debates.

Substantive Themes:

  • School ethos
  • Curriculum
  • Collective worship
  • Food, festivals, prayer and dress
  • Spiritual and special places
  • Religious difference and identity
  • Community and citizenship

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