St John’s National School
Scoil Náisiúnta Naomh Eoin
Principal: Catherine Coady Deputy Principal: Katrina Scanlan
Address: Wyattville Road, Phone: 01 2855525
Ballybrack, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
County Dublin, Website: www.stjohnsns.ie
Religious Education Policy:
This policy has been formulated by Catherine Coady, in consultation with staff, of St. John’s NS, Ballybrack, Co. Dublin
THE AIM OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN A CATHOLIC SCHOOL:
The aim of Religious Education is to help children mature in relation to their spiritual, moral and religious lives, through their encounter with, exploration and celebration of their Catholic faith¹.
THE VISION FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN A CATHOLIC SCHOOL:
In the Irish context the educational vision of the Church is a pastoral one. It acknowledges the complementary, connected, but different roles of the home, school and parish community in the faith education of children. In this vision parents are the first and the primary teachers of their children in faith and the home is the first school of faith. The parish is where children learn to worship, where they meet Jesus Christ in sacramental celebrations and where they experience and share in the mission of the Church.
Religious education in the Catholic primary school has two distinct but complementary dimensions; the educational dimension and the faith formation dimension.
• The educational dimension is centred and founded on the formal curriculum and focuses on the values and teachings of the Catholic Church. It teaches children the skills of spiritual, moral and religious literacy. The Religious Education outcomes at each level in the curriculum reflect this dimension.
¹ Catholic Pre-School and Primary Religious Education Curriculum for Ireland page 31
• The faith formation dimension forms the children’s characters in the virtues and values of Jesus, supports their faith development and helps them to experience what it means to be a member of the Church. The faith formation goals in the curriculum (pp 134-143) support and reflect this dimension.
An important part of this vision is our response to religious and cultural change in our society. Catholic schools are places where all are respected and valued. This includes the many different levels of faith that we will encounter in both our teachers and pupils and those pupils who are of other faiths and different stances for living.
AIM OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION POLICY
The purpose of this Religious Education Policy is:
• To ensure that we strive to understand and promote religious education in a Catholic primary school as never simply one subject among many, but the foundation of the entire educational process.²
• To ensure that formal teaching in matters of belief, values and practice that equip children for a free and intelligent expression of personal faith within the family, Church and wider society is provided. (based on Share the Good News 39)
• To appreciate the richness of all religious traditions, especially those present in our school community, and to provide a framework to encounter these traditions.
• To provide appropriate religious education for the different levels of faith commitment that we encounter in our classrooms
• To lead to a greater degree of clarity in respect of aims, procedures and roles for RE in the school.
• To assist all members of staff in the teaching of Religion.
• To consider strategies that respond to the needs of children of different faiths and other stances for living in terms of religious education.
2 Catholic Pre-School and Primary Religious Education Curriculum for Ireland page 12
ABOUT OUR CATHOLIC SCHOOL:
Our school is a Catholic school under the patronage of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin. Our school is in the parish of KIlliney/Ballybrack. The Parish Priest is Fr. Tom Dalziel
Visitors, parents and children know that we are a Catholic School:
• The Schedule for the Catholic School is available to visitors, parents and staff of the school.
• There are religious symbols and visible signs of our Catholic faith in public areas of our school.
• There is a Sacred Space that reflects the liturgical seasons in all classrooms.
• There is ongoing communication with the local priest. Meetings and visits are scheduled throughout the school year
• Missionary awareness is highlighted through the school’s support and engagement with Trócaire.
• Social justice awareness is highlighted through the school’s support and engagement with charities such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
PRAYER IN OUR SCHOOL:
• School Prayer at assemblies, communal prayer time and liturgical celebrations are timetabled during the school year e.g. Christmas Prayer Service, Advent and Lent Celebrations, Catholic Schools Week Celebration, Graduation Mass
• Important Feast Days are celebrated throughout the Church Year
• There is time for prayer in every classroom at the beginning of the day, before and after lunch and before the children leave at home time.
• Children know their formal prayers and Mass responses as indicated by the curriculum; Level 1 p59; Level 2 page 74; Level 3 p 94; Level 4 page 120.
• Children have the opportunity to experience different forms of prayer, e.g. meditation, contemplation, spontaneous prayer,
TIMETABLING AND TEACHING STAFF:
Our school believes that religious education is a core subject in a Catholic primary school. It is the foundation of the entire educational process. This means that:
• Religious education is timetabled in each classroom for the designated time of 2 ½ hours per week
• Religious education is included in all teachers’ Fortnightly Notes and Cúntas Míosuil.
• All teachers have access to a copy of the Pre-School and Primary Religious Education Curriculum for Ireland.
• All teachers have the relevant Grow in Love material needed to teach religious education in their classroom
• The Religious Education Coordinator distributes all resources and relevant communication from the Diocesan Advisor’s office
• Opportunities for ongoing professional development are regularly offered to teachers.
• There is a Sacred Space in every classroom. This space reflects the movement of the liturgical seasons. It also contains samples of the children’s work, religious symbols and God’s creation.
• Every Prayer Space has a bible
• There are symbols of the Catholic faith in every classroom e.g. a Holy Water Font, Religious Icon or Picture, Cross or Crucifix.
In teaching the approved Religious Education Programme for use in the diocese teachers are enabling children to learn the skills of moral, spiritual and religious literacy so that their understanding of their Christian Faith is constantly deepened, and they develop a mature and informed response to God’s call to relationship. The skills of religious literacy as defined by the curriculum are understanding, communicating, participating, and added to these are the further skills of spiritual literacy and interreligious literacy. (Curriculum page 35-37) The following will help ensure that this can be achieved
• All teachers have a recognised qualification in religious education³
The following approved textbooks/workbooks are in use in the school.
Junior/Senior Infants: Grow in Love
1 & 2 First/Second: Grow in Love
3 & 4 Third/Fourth: Grow in Love
5 & 6 Fifth/Sixth: Grow in Love
7 & 8 Additional resources being used:
Advent and Lenten Diocesan Resources, Catholic School Week Resources, Sacramental Workbooks
³ The Certificate in Religious Studies
In order to better help parents understand what their children are learning in Religious Education a link with home is made regularly. This is done by sending Grow in Love books home regularly and the home/school link ideas and topics are available on www.growinlove.ie. The parents of all children are invited to any School/Family Masses, School Nativities and are involved through Grow in Love in the preparation of their children for First Holy Communion, First Penance and Confirmation. We encourage daily prayers at home as well as in school.
Children should have an understanding and knowledge of their Christian faith through exploring the mystery of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Church/kingdom, through learning about Creation, Mary, Eternal Life and other Religious Traditions and as indicated by the curriculum in Level 1 page 52 -54, Level 2 page 66-67, Level 3 page 84-88 and Level 4 page 106 -113.
• Each senior classroom has access to a set of bibles4.
4 The following bibles are most appropriate for use in the primary classroom: The Good News Bible, New Revised Standard Version, The Catholic Children’s Bible, The Contemporary English Version.
• Children are familiar with bible stories, have an understanding and knowledge of Sacred Scripture, study the structure of the bible, know that Sacred Scripture is the revealed Word of God as indicated by the curriculum in Level 1 page 55, Level 2 page 71, Level 3 page 89 and Level 4 page 115-116
• Children have an understanding and knowledge of the liturgical life of the Church, the structure of the Mass, the seasons of the liturgical year, the way in which we meet Jesus in liturgy, sacraments and prayer, the seven sacraments of the Church as indicated in Level 1 page 58-80, Level 2 page 73-77, Level 3 page 93-99 and Level 4 page 119-125
• Children have an understanding and knowledge of human dignity, Church social teaching, RSE in a Christian context, the two-fold; commandment and the ten commandments, they know that following Jesus is living according to Gospel values, that the Christian moral life is an expression and consequence of relationship with God as indicated by the curriculum in Level 1 page 42, Level 2 page 78-80, Level 3 page 100 -102 and Level 4 page 126-130
• The faith formation dimension which forms the children’s characters in the virtues and values of Jesus, supports their faith development and helps them to experience what it means to be a member of the Church is recognised and supported as an integral part of religious education. The faith formation goals in the curriculum p 134-143 support and reflect this dimension.
• Attention is given to integration of religious education across the primary school curriculum. St John Paul II gave expression to this when he stated that religious education will always seek to ‘keep in touch with the pupil’s knowledge and education; thus, the gospel will impregnate the mentality of the student in the field of their learning and the harmonization of their culture will be achieved in the light of their faith5
• Children are provided with opportunities to learn by heart traditional prayers, Mass responses, hymns, biblical texts, faith words and faith summaries as outlined in the programme of religious education in use in the classroom.
• Provision for Religious Education is made for children with Special Educational Needs as indicated by the Special Education Curriculum Guidelines page 146/154
5 Catechesi Tradendae 60
SACRAMENTAL PREPARATION AND CELEBRATION:
• Leadership in the school makes a conscious effort to ensure that teachers in sacramental classes are faith filled witnesses to the Christian life.
• Children are prepared for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation in partnership with parents and parish.
• It is understood that children’s understanding of these sacraments develops throughout their time in primary school and beyond.
• The school supports the ongoing conversation at parish and diocesan level about how best to prepare for and celebrate the sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation
• The school works together with parents and parish to ensure that sacramental celebrations are authentic, sacred encounters with Jesus Christ
CELEBRATING RECONCILIATION FOR THE FIRST TIME:
• The celebration takes place in the local parish church preferably during the Lenten season
• Parents and other family members are invited to celebrate the sacrament with their children
CELEBRATING HOLY COMMUNION FOR THE FIRST TIME:
• Consideration is given to celebrating Holy Communion during a Sunday Mass or over a number of Sunday Masses
• Children sit with their parents
• Teachers of Confirmation classes are aware of the Diocesan Guidelines for Confirmation and together with school and parish leadership ensure that these guidelines are followed
• Children are encouraged to write a letter to the bishop telling him why they would like to be confirmed.
PARTNERSHIP WITH PARENTS IN RELIGIOUS EDUCATION:
The school seeks to involve parents in their children’s religious education by
• Making a link with home in religious education regularly
• Encouraging parents to have a prayer space at home
• Ensuring parents know which prayers their children are learning and encouraging them to pray with their children at home
• Inviting parents to attend Prayer services, Masses and other religious celebrations
• Relationships between school and parish leadership are fostered and encouraged
• Parish leadership, alongside the school, will plan for visitation of classrooms, celebration of Feast Days, key liturgical celebrations in the school calendar, sacramental preparation and celebration in the school/church where feasible.
INCLUSION OF PUPILS OF DIFFERENT FAITHS AND OTHER STANCES FOR LIVING:
Children of all faiths and different stances for living are welcome in our school. Our school is hospitable, open and inclusive. We continuously strive for best practice concerning the inclusion of pupils in our school. Our practice is founded on principles of good communication, clarity on rights and responsibilities, right relationships, openness to dialogue and compromise and flexibility.6
• Our Admissions Policy and Mission Statement makes clear that we are a Catholic School under the patronage of the Archbishop.
• It is clear to parents enrolling their children that the Catholic ethos of our school permeates the whole school day and not just the formal religious education class
• Our Admissions Policy makes clear that we welcome diversity and inclusion and that we believe that the presence of children from diverse backgrounds enhance and enrich our school community.
• Parents are aware that there are prayers at assemblies, and at moments during the school day. It is made clear that for children of other faiths and different stances for living that these can be times for personal reflection.
• Parents are given an understanding of the nature of religious education in the Catholic Primary School.
• Parents who have concerns about the content of the Religious Education Programme are invited to meet with the Principal/Religious Co-ordinator
6 Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector: Progress to Date and Future Directions, p19
If parents wish to have their children opt out of formal religious education the school offers that the pupil can
• Stay within the classroom and engage in an educationally appropriate activity
• Be withdrawn by a parent for the duration of the Religious Lesson
ONGOING COMMUNICATION, OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCLUSION AND PARENTAL CHOICE
• Parents whose children are of other faiths or different stances for living are made aware in advance of any religious events or celebrations.
• Children are always invited but not obliged to attend all Catholic religious celebrations in the school
• Individual children, with parental consent, may wish to participate in these celebrations by reading appropriate prayers and texts, participating in art or drama, being part of the choir, playing an instrument etc
• Parents are free to absent their child from school for the duration of these events. • Celebrations of the different cultures present in the school are scheduled
• Reconciliation is a feature of daily life. Staff and children are encouraged to grow in appreciation of human dignity
• School assemblies acknowledge celebrations associated with the other faith traditions present in the school.
• Children of different faiths are given the opportunity to explain their beliefs to other children if they so wish to.