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.

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

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.

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.
 Recognizes 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, generosity, 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

Junior classes are following the State Syllabus for Religious Education and Leaving Certificate Religious Education is offered as an option.

Religious Education (Faith Formation) is offered for all Senior Cycle students.

We are aware that the State Syllabi in R.E. are non-confessional and are built around a framework of knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes.  The Syllabi do encourage and support the students in their reflections on their experiences of religion and their commitments to particular religious traditions but cannot and do not examine personal faith and practice. [1] Both can be fostered in the interactions in the religious education classroom and in the prayer life of the school.  Every effort is made to provide students with opportunities to integrate theology with life experience and to engage in creative liturgical celebrations.  (See Paragraph 6 on Liturgy and Paragraph 9 on Justice and Peace).

As a Catholic school, we are further guided in our approach to R.E. by a publication of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, ‘Guidelines for the Faith Formation and Development of Catholic Students studying the State Syllabus’.[2]  In this document, nine additional aims of a faith formational approach to the Junior Certificate syllabus in particular are cited.

As a result of studying the syllabus, students will be enabled:

 To become aware of their own identity and worth as human beings who are created in the image of God and are in need of redemption from sin.
 To develop an awareness of the spiritual dimension of human life, of the mystery of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as understood in the Trinitarian concept of Catholic teaching and revelation.
 To interpret the events and experiences of life through a better understanding of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.
 To learn by guidance and example how better to express their relationship with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
 To deepen their sense of belonging to the Church; to participate more fully in the Church’s liturgy and life, prayer, worship and retreats.
 To acquire the virtues of the Christian life through social justice issues based on praxis, by developing a sense of solidarity with others in the service of humankind.
 To have ever greater respect for, and appreciation of, Sacred Scripture and to act in accordance with the values of the Gospel by bringing its truth to the world.
 To understand the teaching of the Church and its relevance to the questions, problems, aspirations and hopes of the modern world.
 To understand faith perspectives other than their own and the values and beliefs of those that don’t espouse any religious affiliation.

Timetable

Number of class periods in each year:

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

Beginning September 2007 those students opting for taking Religion as a subject for Leaving Certificate will have five extra classes per week in both fifth and sixth year as part as an option band. 

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.
 Peer teaching.
 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.
 Use of IPADs in Junior classes has allowed for a variety of methodologies such as show me boards, traffic light system and kahoots. 

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, Easter and Summer.
 Students taking Religion for Leaving Certificate in 2019 will sit the state exam.

Textbooks and Course Materials

 1st Year students use the ebook “A question of faith” on their IPADs.
 Students in second and third year 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 as an ebook. 
 Each junior student has access to a copy of the Bible on their IPAD. 
 Students at 4th and 5th year level follow “Seek and Find”. Each student has a copy of this core text.
 Students in sixth year non-senior cycle follow a modular base programme. 
 Students sitting LCRE use a variety of textbooks. 
 Teachers and students have access to a range of resources for their course. (Books, Videos and IT).

Homework Policy and Procedure

 Each teacher adopts the school guidelines homework policy. 

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.
 Access to overhead projectors and laptop in classroom.
 Access to the IPAD trolley.
 Each teacher has an IPAD. 

Subject Meetings

Subject meetings are held on a regular basis throughout the year to co-ordinate subject planning meetings, advent wreath, Mary Ward week, graduation mass, organization of the R.E. calendar. Other liturgical events are liaised with the liturgical team within the school. 

Retreats

Retreats are spiritual experiences that recognize and acknowledge the human context of the students but go beyond this to the faith context 4 . They provide an atmosphere for prayer and reflection.  The programme is decided in consultation with the group and is facilitated by members of the R.E. team.

 All students experience a full day retreat each year.
 Junior years will experience the retreat team in the school.
 Junior Cycle classes experience regular meditation in the oratory to build on their experience of the retreat.
 Senior cycle students will experience the retreat outside of the school.
 Fourth Years opt for a day of Ignatian spirituality and prayer conducted by the Loreto Prayer team.  This experience takes place within the school.

Visitors

We recognise that visiting speakers/facilitators play a valuable role in supplementing, complementing and supporting our programme.  Visitors/visiting groups are required to adhere to the following guidelines of good practice:

 

 All visits will be planned in line with the relevant whole-school Religious Education programme.
 Visitors to the school will be made aware of the Child Protection policy and the R.E. policy where necessary.
 Talks/programmes delivered by outside agencies or speakers must be consistent with the ethos of a Loreto school and the R.E. programme.  All visits must be planned with school personnel.
 Parents/guardians must be made aware of visiting speakers or agencies to the classroom.
 The class teacher(s) must remain in the classroom with the students.
 All programmes and events delivered by visitors and external agencies must use appropriate, evidence-based methodologies with clear educational outcomes.  Such programmes are best delivered by those specially qualified to work with young people for whom the programmes are designed.
 All programmes, talks, interventions and events should be evaluated by students and teachers in terms of subject matter, messages, structure, methodology and proposed learning outcomes.

Budget

A budget is available to the R.E. Department.  This budget finances resources, photocopying, art equipment and supplies, subsidies for retreats, Sacramental Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, Emmanuel group, Lourdes trip, liturgical supplies and the updating of equipment.

Prayer and Ritual 

“A Loreto/IBVM school prays, celebrates, participates in sacramental life and ministry and honours Mary the Mother of God.” 

We recognise that good liturgical experience is vital to the faith formation of our students. For many of them, school is their only experience of a praying Christian Community.

A liturgical calendar is prepared for the year.  There are additional liturgies for key events that may take place in any year such as deaths.  These rituals are regarded as key responses in traumatic times and form a key position in the school’s critical incident policy.   Good catechesis at this time makes provision for prayer, meditation, reflection, a listening ear, sensitivity, silence and above all gives witness to the love of Christ.

Liturgical Calendar 

Date

Service

September

Mass to open the Academic Year

November

Service for the Dead

December

Carol Service

January

Service for Mary Ward

February

Mass for Ash Wednesday

February

Lent: Service for Justice and Peace

March/April

Easter Service

May

Graduation Mass for Sixth Years

End of Year Mass

 

All liturgical seasons are highlighted with visuals prepared by the students and displayed throughout the school.  Icons, Religious Images and Crucifixes are placed in prominent positions in the school.  The school has an Oratory.

Ministers of the Eucharist:

Fourth-year and Fifth-year students are invited to apply for positions as Ministers of the Eucharist.   Students must have a belief and understanding of the Eucharist, attend weekly Mass and be available to attend the training sessions to prepare for the role and be willing to serve as Ministers in their parishes.  They are commissioned by the local Parish Priest in Rathfarnham to serve in the school community.  Some agree to act as Ministers in their Parish communities.

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. 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 Critical Incident team in the school. 

Conclusion

The R.E. department recognizes 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

New Junior Cycle Specifications. Please click to view https://www.ncca.ie/en/junior-cycle/subjects-in-development/religious-education.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Association. Please click link to view: https://www.teachdontpreach.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Guidelines-for-the-Faith-Formation-and-Development-of-Catholic-.pdf

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.