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Dr Jacqueline Watson

Dr Jacqueline Watson

Honorary University Fellow



My primary research interest is spirituality in education, including connections between spirituality and Religious Education (RE), and the inclusion of Humanism in RE in the UK.

I retired in 2014 and I am putting my academic interest in spirituality into practice as a Humanist Celebrant and a Humanist member of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital chaplaincy team.

For several years, I was Managing Editor of the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality and I was a founding member of the International Association for Children’s Spirituality. I am a member of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality.

My interest in spirituality in education began over 25 years ago when I was privileged to be taught by Jack Priestley and Terence Copley during my PGCE at the University of Exeter. I was awarded an MEd and a PhD at the University of East Anglia, and my research enabled me to explore understandings of spirituality in adults’ and young people’s lives, and to examine definitions of spirituality in education among educationalists and policy makers.  From 2012-2014, I was Director of the Centre for Spirituality and Religion in Education at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

From 2014 - 2015 I was a member of the AHRC funded Network Collective Worship in Schools: An Evaluation of Law and Policy in the UK, headed by Peter Cumper, University of Leicester, Public Law/Minority Rights and Dr Alison Mawhinney, Bangor University, Human Rights Law/Devolution.

From 2010-2014 I was lecturer in educational research in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning (EDU) at UEA, where I was Course Director of the BA Education - including module leader for Spirituality, Education and the Child and History and Philosophy of Education - and supported teaching and supervision on several additional programmes including the EdD, PhD and Masters programmes.  I was also Chair of the EDU Research Ethics Committee and EDU Senior Adviser.  I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  From 2011 – 2014, I was a co-opted Humanist member of the Norfolk Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.



BA (Hons Philosophy), PGCE, MEd, PhD


Research group links


Research interests


Watson, J., 2018, The Contribution of Collective Worship to Spiritual Development, In (eds) Cumper P. & A. Mawhinney, 2018, Collective Worship and Religious Observance in Schools. Oxford: Peter Lang, 201-222.

Watson, J., 2017, Every Child Still Matters: interdisciplinary approaches to the spirituality of the child, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 22(1), 4-13.

Watson, J., 2016, The Spiritual Care and Nurture of the Non-religious in the Caring Professions. In (eds) de Souza M., Bone J. & J. Watson, 2016, Spirituality across Disciplines: Research and Practice. New York: Springer, 51-66.

de Souza, M., Bone, J. & J. Watson (eds) 2016, Spirituality across Disciplines: Research and Practice. New York: Springer.

Watson J., de Souza M. & A. Trousdale (eds) 2014, Global Perspectives on Spirituality and Education, New York, TaylorFrancis/Routledge.

Watson J., 2013, Post-secular schooling: freedom through faith or diversity in community, Cambridge Journal of Education 43, 147-162

Watson J., 2013, Knowing through the felt-sense: a gesture of openness to the other, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 18, 118-130.

Watson J., 2012, Religion, spirituality and state-funded schooling: revisiting a fractured relationship with guidance from Habermas. Journal for the Study of Spirituality 2(2), 186-202.

Priyadharshini., & Watson, J., 2012, Between aspiration and achievement: Agency and structure in young migrant lives, Power and Education, Special Issue on Migration & Education 4(2), 150 - 161.

Watson, J., 2011, Discussion in religious education: developing dialogic for community cohesion and/or spiritual development, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 16(2), 97 – 108.

Watson, J., 2010, Including secular philosophies such as humanism in locally agreed syllabuses for religious education, British Journal of Religious Education 32(1), 5 - 18.

Watson, J., 2010, Responding to Difference: Spiritual development and the search for truth, In de Souza, M., Francis, L., O'Higgins-Norman, J. & Scott, D. (eds) International Handbook of Education for Spirituality, Care and Wellbeing (2 volumes), Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Springer Academic Publishers.

Watson, J., 2009, Science, spirituality and truth: acknowledging difference for spiritual dialogue and human well-being, International Journal of Children's Spirituality 14(4), 313 - 322.

Watson, J., 2008, Can children and young people learn from atheism for spiritual development? A response to the national framework for religious education, British Journal of Religious Education 30(1), 49 - 58.

Watson, J., 2007, Spiritual development: constructing an inclusive and progressive approach, Journal of Beliefs and Values 28(2), 125-136.

Watson, J., 2006, Every Child Matters and children’s spiritual rights: does the new holistic approach to children’s care address children’s spiritual well-being? International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 11(2), 251 – 264.

Watson, J., 2006, Spiritual Development and Inclusivity: the need for a critical democratic approach, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 11(1), 113 – 124.

Vanlint, B. & Watson, J., 2004, Spiritual Development, Moral Development and Citizenship Education, In Browne, A. & Haylock, D., (eds) Professional Issues for Primary Teachers, Sage.

Watson, J., 2004, Educating for Citizenship - the emerging relationship between Religious Education and Citizenship Education, British Journal of Religious Education 26(3), 259-271.

Watson, J., 2003, Preparing Spirituality for Citizenship, International Journal of Children's Spirituality 8(1), 9-24.

Watson, J., 2002, From Transcendence to Ethics: shaping spirituality to schools, Journal of Beliefs and Values 21(1), 39-50.

Watson, J., 2001, OFSTED's Spiritual Dimension: an analytical audit of inspection reports, Cambridge Journal of Education 31(2), 205-219.

Watson, J., 2000, Whose Model of Spirituality Should Be Used in the Spiritual Development of School Children? International Journal of Children's Spirituality 5(1), 91-101.






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