Welcome to Spirit Gym! I originally created Spirt Gym for trainee teachers and early career teachers from different faiths and none, to support them with their own spiritual development and spiritual wellbeing with a view to them supporting the spiritual development of children. This grew out of a scheme for Wicked RE which I designed to enhance the integration of spirituality and sustainability in 21C Religious Education in UK schools. Then I realised that more people in schools and universities and online learning environments would benefit from a practical approach to peer support which integrates the seven practices of essential spirituality and the enneagram. Above all I realised that parents as first educators might appreciate an approach to spiritual development they could share with their children at home. A little bit about my background …
I first came to live in the north west of England as a student at Manchester University in 1985 and having lived and worked nomadically here ever since, I eventually settled in Liverpool, a stone’s throw from the Mersey estuary. I count both city regions home and it is the living waterways of the Mersey rivers, many streams one river, that connect the places and people I love in this bioregion and ground my one planet thinking and spiritual practice.
I have taken a BA Hons in Theology and Religious Studies (Manchester University), MA in Educational Management (Open University), PhD in School Leadership (Liverpool University). My teaching qualifications include a PGCE Primary (Manchester University), PGCert ODE Online & Distance Education (Open University) and PGCTHE (Edge Hill University).
I have a wealth of experience that includes Primary School teaching (7 years), Headteacher (14 years), University lecturing (7 years), Thinking Skills training in schools (10 years), and Organisational Development Consultant (6 years). Throughout my career I have been interested in Religious Education but even more importantly the holistic personal development of children in terms of their Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development. Crucially this extends to the spirituality of teachers ourselves, without which we cannot even begin to focus on the spiritual development of children and young people in our care.
Spirit Gym Credentials
In addition to my academic and educational qualifications I am affiliated with Co-counselling International (UK), having undertaken the minimum 40 hours training to practice as a Co-counsellor and a further 80 hours supporting the training of other coco practitioners.
I am also a certified teacher and practitioner of the Narrative Enneagram having completed the professional training program with Helen Palmer and David Daniels in 2007. This involved 270 hours of professional training encompassing Foundation, Typing Practitioner and Panel/Teacher training, plus many hours of practice.
In the UK I am affiliated to Enneagram Alive and subscribe to its Code of Ethics.
Spirit Gym for Teachers @ Edge Hill University
I currently run a local Spirit Gym for school teachers and school leaders where I teach and research at Edge Hill University in the Faculty of Education, Department for Primary and Childhood Education.See my research interests
I have worked with Tim on many occasions in the areas of organisational development through Appreciative Inquiry, and the training of coaching skills. I am consistently impressed with his knowledge of theory, his quick wit and his ability to engage with all kinds of groups.
Mr Saunders was one of the very few excellent teachers I have been taught by. Even thought It was over 25 years ago, such a positive experience stays with you forever. He was always able to think out of the box and deliver such interesting ways of teaching the simplest of things. Teaching a class to play chess, combining art into story writing and developing our “joined up writing” skills were all part of class 6 daily life, but having someone who instilled confidence and belief in each and everyone of us, no matter what our background or ability was a quality Tim brought to the classroom every day.
Tim is able to apply his wide range of skills to a wide variety of organisational development needs and professional fields beyond education. I have worked with him on many occasions and never fail to be impressed by his unique insights and creative approach. He is an accomplished events organiser and group facilitator encouraging user engagement in evaluating & improving services through appreciative inquiry. He speaks from the heart, is an idealist in the best possible sense with huge understanding and knowledge and would be an asset to any organisation concerned with people development.
Dr Tim has Excellent Temperament, is a Brilliant Creative Thinker, a Great Team Player, Always willing to give others credit and motivate them. He has an “expert knowledge” leadership style. He can command respect because of his ability to effortlessly convey his expertise to those working with him. He is methodical and creative. This ensures that he continually inspires those around him to excel at their jobs. Dr Tim has excellent interpersonal skills. He was equally at ease conversing with pupils, staff, parents or governors. A good listener who would accommodate different styles for people to achieve a common goal. My fellow governors and I would employ him again, without reservation. He is well suited for any roles that involve development, expansion, or diversification at a senior strategic level.
Dr Saunders led on whole-school Teaching and Learning 3-16 with great skill and care, demonstrating excellent knowledge within a newly structured leadership team, and introducing a high impact Teaching and Learning strategy using split-screen teaching to improve learning dispositions and thinking skills across the age range. This project demonstrated his organizational skills and very good management of whole-school planning. I was impressed with the way a primary expert quickly gained the confidence of secondary teachers who enthusiastically put his recommendations into practice.
Dr Timothy Saunders successfully combines academic rigour with leadership skills in ways that are rare. He integrates effectively his very substantial and diverse experience of educational management with an exceptional capacity to draw upon and apply a wide range of thinking – across many different disciplines – in ways are that fresh, creative and fertile. He demonstrates flair, imagination and lateral thinking, or thinking ‘outside the box.’ Tim is well-equipped to make a very valuable contribution to teaching, consultancy and research work.