Abstract image for the project Faith in the Nexus

Faith in the Nexus

Abstract image for the project Faith in the Nexus

Faith in the Nexus

How do church primary schools facilitate opportunities for children’s exploration of faith and spiritual life in the home?

The Faith in the Nexus research project was an extensive empirical mixed methods study undertaken by NICER at Canterbury Christ Church University. Throughout this two phased project, the research team took a child-centred approach by attentively listening to the voices of Year 5 and Year 6 children speaking across 27 church primary schools in England and Wales.

Three core animations support the first research phase. The first animation draws attention to the key findings of the report whilst the second animation has an empowering message for parents nurturing their child’s spiritual journey. The third animation is aimed at encouraging children to consider their own spirituality.

In the second phase of the research, we have captured the voices of children speaking openly about their own faith and spiritual experiences in the home, school, and church environments. Seven further animations encapsulate children responding to various aspects of faith and spirituality.

In essence, the Faith in the Nexus project has identified the fruitful ways in which the Nexus of home, school and church can work in collaboration to encourage and nurture children’s spiritual flourishing.

Research outputs

Phase 1 (2017-2020)

Outputs from this phase:

Phase 2 (2023)

Outputs from this phase:

Further reading

A flourishing Nexus of school, church, and home:

  • Nurtures relationships between individuals & institutions
  • Encourages spiritual leadership
  • Offers time and space for reflection
  • Provides a safe space to talk of faith & spiritual matters or ask challenging questions
  • Gives a sense of belonging to a local Christian community

In the home:

  • Children are often the dynamic initiators of conversations about faith or spirituality
  • The stimulus for these conversations includes activities, curriculum, and worship in school
  • Parental attitudes to these conversations varied: some parents struggled with how to respond to these initiatives; others avoided or closed conversations down through lack of knowledge, confidence, or fear of indoctrination

Church primary schools encouraged more faith interactions in the home when:

  • Active connections between church and school were sustained
  • Opportunities for spiritual leadership roles for pupils were provided
  • Space and time for reflection were available
  • The RE curriculum focused on questions and Christian concepts

Parents’ confidence is increased when the church primary school:

  • Encourages talk about spiritual matters
  • Offers encounters with faith & beliefs, and visits to church
  • Explicitly communicates Christian values, beliefs, and practices through a variety of media – newsletters, websites, signage, and displays

Characteristics of positive relationships between church and school:

  • Invitational worship
  • Celebration of festivals
  • The presence of the minister in the school
  • A sense of belonging and connection to the church community and building

What needs to change?

We now have more knowledge about the relationship between multiple factors, such as faith-based admissions criteria, school, church, and diocesan strategies, and the presence of fruitful faith conversations, prayer, and other practices in the home environment.

There is a need for:

  • Greater awareness and understanding of the value of the church school relationship and school approaches that encourage children to explore faith in the home
  • All Christian educators and ministers to prioritise facilitation of faith exploration in the home

We believe that changes can be made by targeted and effective dissemination of the key findings to significant influencers and animators through a sustained campaign that is integrated with stakeholder activities and strategies, in particular Growing Faith in the Church of England.

Nexus researching church toddler groups"

https://researchspace.canterbury.ac.uk/97272/nexus-researching-church-toddler This research project emerged from previous NICER research projects looking at the spiritual development of secondary-age students and the spiritual nurture of primary school pupils in the Nexus. The […]
Thursday March 07, 2024

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Nexus Teachers’ Action Pack"

Our new Faith in the Nexus Teachers’ Action Pack includes a fully resourced assembly and signposts the reader to our growing collection of Faith in the Nexus resources.
Monday February 14, 2022

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Work with NICER"

Job title : NICER Research Fellow / Senior Research FellowJob reference : REQ02757Application closing date : 20/02/2022Location : CanterburySalary : *GBP*31,406 – *GBP*36,382 (pro rata for part time staff)Package : Job category/type : Academic Job description :  […]
Tuesday February 01, 2022

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In conversation: Parents, teachers of Faith and the Nexus of school, parish church and family"

We had a very interesting online meeting in September 2021. We listened to a pre-recorded zoom meeting with a small group of parents from three different Catholic parishes, engaged in […]
Monday January 10, 2022

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NICER Faith in the Nexus Seminar: Storytelling and Spirituality"

Storytelling and spirituality go hand in hand, as it is within sacred stories that we find the space to discover deeper answers to perennial questions such as ‘who am I?’, […]
Friday November 26, 2021

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Encouraging Faith-talk in the home: Meeting Recording"

A Faith in the Nexus Video – Faith-talk in the home-Meeting Recording from September 2021 led by Ms Pittaway and Dr Casson from NICER, at Canterbury Christ Church University. For […]
Wednesday September 29, 2021

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Faith in the Nexus Seminar: Spiritual Leadership of Church Primary School Headteachers, led by Ursula Eisl (NICER intern) in conversation with Dr Ann Casson"

Faith in the Nexus Seminar: Spiritual Leadership of Church Primary School Headteachers, led by Ursula Eisl (NICER intern) in conversation with Dr Ann Casson.  Date presented: July 7th 2021 This […]
Monday July 12, 2021

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DOWNLOAD OUR NEW RESOURCE FAITH-TALK AT HOME Often children seek to explore faith and the big existential issues by asking questions. Home can provide a safe and exploratory space for […]
Monday July 05, 2021

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Faith in the Nexus Animation for Parents."

Our animation is ready and has a guide, Exploring Faith in the Nexus to accompany it.  The animation recognises that all children have a spiritual life that drives them to seek meaning and purpose […]
Wednesday June 30, 2021

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Let’s Talk About Death: A Faith in the Nexus Seminar"

Death is inevitable, but is often hidden away, talked about in whispers. Finding the language to talk with children about death is challenging, whether in the home or in school environment.  It’s often easier […]
Thursday June 10, 2021

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