Religious Education

Rationale

Loreto High School Beaufort is a voluntary secondary school under the trusteeship of the Loreto Sisters and run by a Board of Management. As a Catholic school the person of Jesus Christ is at the heart of our community and Gospel values permeate the entire school experience 1

The distinctive philosophy of the school is derived from the insights and vision of St. Ignatius of Loyola and Mary Ward. Mary Ward’s core values of justice, freedom, sincerity, truth and joy are central to the spirituality of the school 2. Education in this school is person-centred and holistic. In Beaufort we endeavour to provide a caring community and a supportive environment which encourages each student to develop her full spiritual, intellectual, moral, emotional and social potential.

Context

There are varying levels of faith experience and faith commitment in our school reflecting the wider cultural context of the Church in the Ireland of today.

Aims of R.E. in the School

The general aim of Religious Education is to awaken people to faith and then to help them throughout their lives to deepen and strengthen that faith 3.

The fundamental principles governing the Religious Education of students in this school may be stated as follows:

Religious Education

  • Contributes to the revelation and communication of God’s love.
  • Invites the student to respond to God with love and gratitude through a variety of experiences, including prayer and liturgy.
  • Respects the student as a person.
  • Engages with her personal and social development.
  • Encourages the student to ask the key questions humankind has always asked.
  • Deepens the appreciation and understanding of the Catholic tradition.
  • Fosters and deepens the student’s faith.
  • Contributes to the student’s religious and moral development.
  • Helps the student to tell her own story and the story of her faith community.
  • Promotes open, mutually respectful and inclusive attitudes among students of different social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and highlights ecumenism as an essential feature of modern Christianity.
  • Animates effective, active and cognitive religious experience.
  • Embraces those with special education needs.
  • Facilitates authenticity, commitment and responsibility on the part of the student and the teacher.
  • Recognises the whole school, whole community nature of religious education.
  • Acknowledges its intergenerational character.
  • Values the partnership between home, school, parish and the Loreto tradition.
  • Promotes hospitality, generousity, compassion, justice, respect and peace.

In summary, the religious education of students in this school is an interdisciplinary affair, grounded in education theory and practice and closely but critically connected to the contemporary culture.

Subject Provision

Religious Education is a core subject so all students are obliged to study it.

Number of class periods in each year:

  • Three in each Junior Certificate group
  • Two in Transition Year
  • Three in Fifth Year
  • Two in Sixth Year

Beginning September 2007 those students opting for taking Religion as a subject for Leaving Certificate will have four extra classes per week.

Methodologies

Teachers of Religious Education have found it helpful and
effective to:

  • Use group work because students benefit from interaction with others, exchange of ideas, organisation and co-operation.
  • Project work because students focus on particular ideas/topics, engage in something of interest and use skills of research.
  • Audio-Visual/ IT learning, because students can engage in area of course in experiential way, see different viewpoints (adds interest to a topic)
  • ‘Talk and Chalk’/ Textbook analysis because students need to know key areas of syllabus essential for examination.
  • Visits to places of significance to topic being studied – e.g. Synagogue, Mosque, local Parish Church.

Assessment

  • All students, having completed the three years Junior Certificate course, sit the Junior Certificate Religious Exam at the appropriate level.
  • All students sit formal in-house exams at the end of 1st, 2nd year at Christmas and Summer.
  • Students taking Religion for Leaving Certificate in 2009 will sit the state exam.

Textbooks and Course Materials

  • Students preparing for Junior Certificate follow “The New Religion for Living” by Connie Duffy (Alpha Press Ltd.) Each student has a copy of this core text.
  • Students at 4th and 5th year level follow “World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery” by Jeffrey Brodd (St. Mary’s Press). Each student has a copy of this core text.
  • Each student has a copy of the Bible.
  • Students in sixth year have “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom as their core text.
  • Teachers and students have access to a range of resources for their course. (Books, Videos and IT).

Homework Policy and Procedure

  • Each teacher adopts their own homework policy and this is clearly established with each class group. This is followed through by the individual teacher.

Facilities and Resources

  • One Oratory and one Chaplains room.
  • Access to video/ dvd recorder, fully equipped computer room.
  • Access to local parish church.
  • Range of books and videos available.

Subject Meetings

Subject meetings are held on a regular basis throughout the year to co-ordinate Mass for the Opening of the school year, organisation of R.E. calendar of events, Carol Service, Easter Services, Graduation Mass, End of Year Mass and subject planning meetings.

Retreats

Retreats are spiritual experiences that recognise and acknowledge the human context of the students but go beyond this to the faith context 4

  • One day retreats are held in the Junior and Senior cycles juniors in the. Benildus Pastoral Centre in Stillorgan and fifth years in Gort Muire hosted by the Catholic Youth Care team.
  • Leaving Certificate students opt for a week of Guided Prayer week by the Loreto Prayer Team.
  • It is hoped to provide a days retreat for the 4th years in the Glencree centre for peace and reconciliation.

The School Chaplain

The chaplain works in close co-operation with the Principal, R.E. Dept., Year Heads, Guidance Counsellors and Teachers.

Working with the relevant staff she helps develop faith, worship and school ethos. She responds to the needs of staff, students and parents.

The chaplain is available throughout the school day.

She meets the first years on their at their assembly in September; at a liturgy, held in the oratory for each 1st year group, remembering the Gifts of the Spirit received in Confirmation by the children some months previous. She meets all First Year students separately in the course of the first half-term. She sees any students who are troubled, bereaved or having difficulties. These meetings are by appointment with the agreement of the class teacher.

Together with the R.E. team she will help prepare masses for the opening of the school year, the 6th Year Graduation Mass, the end of year school Mass and other liturgical services in the school.

The Chaplain is also a member of the Crisis Response Team in the school.

Justice and Peace Group

The Justice and Peace Group in Beaufort works in partnership with the school Council, the Amnesty Committee and the Green School Committee.. They have taken on the task of raising awareness of the plight of girls in the Sudan and are active in raising money for same. The group also plans to publish a magazine to highlight its activities.

Click here to see the latest updates on the Justice and Peace Group

Conclusion

The R.E. department recognises and values the ongoing support of management and all school staff for the central role of R.E. in the school. this support helps to awaken our students’ faith and strengthens it on their journey through life.

Bibliography

G. Byrne, ‘Children’s Religious Education: Challenge and Gift’, G .Byrne and R. Topley (eds) Nurturing Children’s Religious Imagination – The Challenge of Primary Religious Education today, (Dublin: Veritas, 2003), pg 59 (with slight adaptions).

D. Lane, ‘Reimagining the Catholic World’, N. Prendergast and Luke Monaghan (eds), Reimagining the Catholic School, (Dublin: Veritas, 2003), pg 59.

  1. Kolkaas Education Guidelines, (India: IBVM, 2003), pg. 1
  2. ibid. pg.1
  3. A Syllabus for the Religious Education of Catholic Pupils in Post Primary Schools, (Dublin: Veritas, 1982), pg. 44
  4. L. Monahan and C. Renehan, The Chaplain: A Faith Presence in the School Community, (Dublin: Columba, 1998) pg 13.