The very nature of education in a Catholic school challenges students academically to achieve their God given potential, develop spiritual literacy and become active citizens. They are secure in the love that God has for them, their intrinsic value, the unique talents that they have as well as the firm belief that they are able to make an active difference in the world.
Impact on Teaching in the School
At the heart of every lesson is the unwavering commitment that each individual is created in the image of God and specially called to their own vocation. Teachers plan lessons that meet the needs of all those in the classroom allowing students to enjoy, engage and make positive progress in their learning journey.
A real love of learning and zeal for life is evident. The inclusive classroom allows students to explore and engage with the content studied, ask questions, take risks and form their own justified judgements.
Catholic Social Teaching
The central principles of Catholic Social Teaching have always been evident within our school community. St Bernard’s highlights the key principles of dignity, common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, participation, stewardship, option for the poor and peace throughout the curriculum areas.
The key principles are directly explored in Religious Education and Citizenship, as well mapped across every department and faculty curriculum.
Curriculum and enrichment opportunities outside of the classroom.
Our students have many opportunities to engage with their faith outside of the classroom. Some of the notable enrichment opportunities run by the RE department in the last couple of years include:
- Year 10 trip to Rome- 40 Year 10 students to Rome in the Summer Term 2023. Students visited sites in the Holy City- The Catacomb, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, St Peter's, Colosseum, Roman Forum as well as the Jewish Museum and synagogues.
- Lunchtime clubs- a space to explore key concepts of Catholic Social Teaching.
- Introduction to New Testament
- Philosophy, Prayer and Theology
- Religious clips and reflections
- External speakers- As part of the Key Stage Three curriculum, our students get a visit from Wayne Dixon who shares his faith and looks at Jesus’ relationship with others. They see how Jesus lives out the ‘preferential option of the poor’ and calls us all to ‘participation.’
- Year 13 inspiring speakers- As part of the General RE programme, our students have the opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers on how the key Christian values have inspired them. It allows our students to consider the values and how they can be lived out in the wider world.
In 2023 we welcomed...
Dame Joanna Bogle - spoke about the influence and impact of Pope John Paul II as well as her experiences of working with the international charity Aid to the Church in Need in Poland under martial law. She highlighted the central principles of solidarity, subsidiarity, participation and dignity.
Baroness Cox - Focused her talk on the work of her charity HART. Her humanitarian work takes her to conflict and post-conflict zones. She shared the stories of individual and communities often forgotten about. Her work is a daily living out of HART’s motto: ‘I cannot do everything, but I must not do nothing.’ Her unwavering commitment to the dignity of all, solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good was inspiring.
Ged Nolan from CAFOD visited three days after the earthquake that devastated parts of Turkey and Syria. He explained how CAFOD had already responded to this through its partner organisations on the ground in these areas. He highlighted two aspects of CAFOD’s work;
- Firstly, it helps anyone or group in need and often the hardest to reach people regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity (dignity and preferential option for the poor.’
- Secondly that much of CAFOD’s work is about sustainable development (common good, stewardship).
Art Beyond Belief Project
A group of Year 10 students in the autumn term 2023 explored the theme of stewardship through creating their own artwork and attended the Second Interfaith conference ‘Reconnecting with the planet’ to showcase their work. The pupils used the medium of computer art to convey a sense of urgency regarding our planet. Here are some examples of our pupil’s work. A very poignant message was received!
Faith in Action day with other Secondary Schools in the Diocese
In July 2023 a group of Year 10 pupils attended the ‘Faith in Action’ day at St Paul’s Catholic School in Milton Keynes. They had the opportunity to explore important issues surrounding our response and responsibility to asylum seekers and refugees. Students examined questions surrounding these issues in light of the Gospel and Pope Francis’ SEE-JUDGE-ACT approach.
Students engaged with Catholic Social Teaching as well as key documents from the Catholic Church. They heard representatives from CAFOD and Pax Christi speak on the issue. They worked collaboratively with students from other Diocese schools on presentations. It was a joy and a privilege to see our student’s inspired to put their faith into action!
RE, Religious Literacy and World Religions
As part of the Religious Education curriculum students develop their religious literacy. They learn about the key belief, teachings and practices of the Catholic faith as well as many of the world religions; Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam.