Mission and Charism
What is the Education Service’s vision for our school Catholic Life and Mission?
‘Follow him more nearly’
The Diocese of Westminster Education Service has developed a vision for school’s Catholic Life and Mission based on 1 John 4:7-12:
‘Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.’ (1 John 4:7-12)
This can be incapsulated by –
God is love. We are loved. Love one another.
God is love
‘We have come to know and to believe in the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. This is how love is made perfect in us. (1 John 4:16-18)
Catholics believe that God is omnibenevolent – all loving. God’s very nature is love. This is a belief that should be at the heart of all Catholic schools. Pupils need to be taught about this theological truth and must also have opportunities during prayer and liturgy to experience God’s love.
We are loved
‘God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ (1 John 4: 9-10)
All members of our school communities are loved by God. Each school needs to effectively communicate this to governors, staff, pupils, and parents. Pupils and the wider school community can experience the love of God through being loved and valued. Also, through the way the school nurtures and celebrates them during their time at the school.
Love one another
‘We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.’ (1 John 3:16-18)
If God is love and we are loved, we are called to love one another. In our schools this is shown by how we treat each other, everyone should be welcomed, respected and included, whether Catholic or from another world faith or none. Time should be spent understanding and implementing the Catholic Social Teachings. This means each school would work for social justice and support charities locally, nationally and internationally.
What is the purpose of a school mission?
The purpose of a school mission is to define and communicate the overall goal and direction of the school. It serves as a guiding statement that outlines the core values, beliefs, and objectives of the school. A mission statement helps to shape the culture, identity, and priorities of the school community, including students, teachers and parents.
Key purposes of a school mission:
- Direction and Focus: A mission statement provides a clear direction and focus for the school. It outlines the purpose of the institution and helps stakeholders understand the school’s primary goals and aspirations. It serves as a reference point for decision-making, resource allocation, and strategic planning.
- Identity and Culture: A mission statement helps establish the identity and culture of the school. It reflects the values and principles that the school holds dear and communicates them to the community. A well-crafted mission statement helps create a shared sense of purpose and unity among students, staff, and parents.
- Accountability and Evaluation: A mission statement sets expectations and serves as a foundation for evaluating the performance and effectiveness of the school. It allows stakeholders to assess whether the institution is living up to its stated objectives and values. By aligning actions and initiatives with the mission, schools can hold themselves accountable for their educational outcomes.
- Communication and Marketing: A mission statement serves as a communication tool for the school to share its vision and values with the wider community. It can attract prospective students and parents who align with the school’s educational philosophy. A clear and compelling mission statement can also help differentiate the school from others in the area.
- Decision-Making and Priority Setting: A mission statement provides a framework for decision-making and priority setting within the school. It helps stakeholders make informed choices that align with the overall purpose and values of the school. When faced with competing options, the mission statement can guide decision-makers in choosing the path that best reflects the school’s mission.
A school mission statement serves as a beacon that guides the school’s actions, shapes its identity, and communicates its values. It provides a framework for decision-making, evaluation, and accountability while fostering a sense of purpose and unity within the school community.
What is the mission of Catholic education?
The purpose of Catholic schools is rooted in the religious mission and values of the Catholic Church. This mission should be the foundation of each school’s mission. Catholic schools in England and Wales were established to support Catholic parents in their responsibility for the academic, physical, spiritual, moral and religious education of their children in accordance with the teachings of the Church. Catholic education endeavours to make the person of Jesus Christ known and loved, and to place Him and the teachings of the Catholic Church at the centre of the educational enterprise. In placing ‘Christ at the Centre’, Catholic education seeks to invite all into a life of discipleship within the Body of the Church. This means that Catholic Schools are committed to promoting:
- Faith Formation: Catholic schools seek to nurture the faith of students by providing an environment where Catholic beliefs, teachings, and values are integrated into the curriculum and daily life. They aim to foster a deep understanding and practice of the Catholic faith, including sacramental understanding, prayer, worship, and character education.
- Academic Excellence: Catholic schools strive to provide a high-quality academic education that prepares students for future success. They emphasise rigorous academic standards, critical thinking, and intellectual development across various subject areas.
- Character and Moral Development: Catholic schools focus on the holistic development of students, helping them grow in character and moral virtue. They aim to instil values such as compassion, respect, responsibility, and integrity, emphasising the importance of ethical behaviour, social justice, and service to others.
- Community and Relationships: Catholic schools aim to create a sense of community and foster positive relationships among students, parents, teachers, and staff. They promote a supportive and nurturing environment where students feel valued and cared for. The community aspect includes involvement in parish life, collaboration with families, and a sense of belonging within the broader Catholic faith community.
- Evangelisation: Catholic schools see themselves as instruments of evangelisation, seeking to share the Catholic faith with students and their families. They aim to cultivate a missionary spirit, encouraging students to live out their faith in their daily lives and to contribute positively to society.
- Service and Social Justice: Catholic schools emphasise the importance of service to others and promote a commitment to social justice. They encourage students to be active participants in their communities, addressing issues of poverty, inequality, and injustice, guided by Catholic Social Teaching principles.
While Catholic schools have a distinct religious character, they also strive to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for students from various backgrounds and faith traditions. The purpose of Catholic schools is ultimately to educate and form the whole person, integrating faith, knowledge, values, and service in order to prepare students to be responsible and compassionate members of society.
What is a charism of a Catholic school?
In the context of religious communities, a charism refers to a special gift, grace, or spiritual characteristic that is believed to be given by the Holy Spirit to a particular group or individual. It is a unique quality or focus that distinguishes the community or person and guides their mission and way of life.
The term “charism” is derived from the Greek word “charis,” which means “grace” or “favor.” Charisms are often associated with religious orders, congregations, or lay movements within the Catholic Church, but they can also be found in other Christian denominations and spiritual traditions.
Here are some key aspects of a charism:
- Inspiration and Origin: A charism is considered to be a divine gift, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. It is believed to emerge from the spiritual experiences, insights, or mission of a particular founder, saint, or group within the Church.
- Unique Focus: Each charism has a distinct focus or emphasis that reflects the spiritual gifts and calling of the community.
- Guiding Principles: A charism provides a set of guiding principles or values that shape the spirituality, lifestyle, and mission of the community. It influences their decision-making, community life, prayer practices, and relationships with others.
- Communal Identity: Charisms often form the basis of a community’s identity and unity. Members who share the same charism are bound together by a common purpose, spirituality, and mission. The charism helps define their sense of belonging and commitment to one another.
- Service and Mission: Charisms are usually expressed through acts of service, ministry, or mission. They guide the community in how they live out their faith and carry out their specific role in the Church and society. Charisms often have an outward focus, seeking to address the needs of others and contribute to the building of God’s kingdom.
- Discernment and Development: Charisms require discernment and ongoing nurturing. Communities and individuals need to discern the authenticity and relevance of a charism within the changing circumstances of the world. They may adapt and develop their charism while remaining faithful to its core values and principles.
Charisms play a vital role in the life of religious communities helping them live out their faith in a unique and purposeful way. They contribute to the diversity and richness of the Church, allowing different charisms to complement and support one another in the pursuit of God’s mission and this is evident by the different charisms found in our order schools across the diocese.
How to create a catholic school mission statement?
Creating a Catholic school mission statement involves thoughtful reflection, collaboration, and a focus on the school’s unique identity and values. Here are some steps to help you in the process:
- Reflect on the school’s identity: Begin by reflecting on the school’s identity as a Catholic educational institution. Consider its history, charism, patron saints, traditions, and any specific characteristics that define the school community. Think about the school’s vision for education, faith formation, and service.
- Gather input from stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders in the mission statement creation process. This must include all school staff, teachers, parents, students, clergy, and members of the wider
- Catholic community. Conduct surveys, focus groups, or meetings to gather their perspectives on the school’s strengths, values, and aspirations.
- Identify core values: Identify the core values that are central to the school’s Catholic identity. These values may include faith, excellence, integrity, compassion, service, community, and social justice. Discuss and prioritise these values based on their significance to the school’s mission.
- Define the school’s purpose: Articulate the overarching purpose of the school. Consider the specific goals and objectives you aim to achieve in line with the Catholic faith. Think about how the school contributes to the academic, spiritual, and moral development of students, as well as its role in preparing them for active participation in the Church and society.
- Craft a clear and concise statement: Based on the reflections and input gathered, distill the information into a clear and concise mission statement. The statement should reflect the school’s identity, values, and purpose. It should be inspiring, memorable, and reflective of the school’s commitment to Catholic education. A motto or single sentence or phrase is a useful way for the mission to be communicated, known and understood.
- Seek feedback and refinement: Share the draft mission statement with stakeholders and seek their feedback. Incorporate their suggestions and refine the statement accordingly. It is essential to ensure that the mission statement reflects a collective understanding and ownership from the school community.
- Obtain approval and implementation: Communicate the mission statement widely within the school community and integrate it into the school’s policies, strategic plans, curriculum, and daily practices.
Remember that a Catholic school mission statement is not a static document but a living expression of the school’s ongoing mission and commitment. It should guide decision-making, shape the school’s culture, and inspire continuous growth and improvement.
What are British Values?
Please click to expand the headings below. There is a description of the value and suggestions of what schools in the Diocese may do to promote it.
What is it
“Demos” is the Greek word for “people”. “Crat” is the Greek word for “power” so democracy is “people power“.
In his Gettysburg Address (1863) Abraham Lincoln described “government of the people, by the people, for the people“.
How could we promote democracy?
- Having a School Council
- Hold mock elections
- Take part in debating competitions
- Invite MPs and other speakers to the school
- Visit parliaments, assemblies and local councils
- Participate in the UK Youth Parliament
- Highlighting the development of democratic ideas in history lessons.
- Allowing pupils to vote for Head Boy/ Head Girl/ House or Sports captains.
- Ensuring all pupils are listened to by adults.
What is it?
Everyone has to obey the law. Anyone who breaks the law will be held to account fairly. The rich and powerful do not get special treatment.
How could we promoted the Rule of Law?
- Create some “class rules” together
- Having a clear behaviour policy that is explained to all.
- Highlighting the rules of the Church and God in the RE curriculum, for example the 10 commandments and the Precepts of the Church.
- Organise visits from the police service to reinforce the message of right and wrong
- Hold a mock trial – visit this website to find a step by step guide, including a script, guidance for each role and mock evidence. (http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/lib_res_pdf/0122.pdf)
- Teaching about the development of the Rule of Law in English Law, a legal system created uniquely in a Catholic England, inspired by Christian values and becoming a major influence across the world.
What is it
The right of people to decide how they choose to live their lives, as long as this does not have a negative impact on the lives of others.
How can we promote individual liberty?
- Inform your conscience to make sure that your decisions will not be harmful to anyone.
- Think, what is the most loving thing to do?
- Reflect and take responsibility for thinking about your vocation.
- Encourage students to be independent in their learning.
What is it?
People listening to and valuing the views of each other.
How can we promote mutual respect?
- Follow Jesus’ example by being friendly and loving to your neighbour
- Our individuality and our differences are something to be celebrated. Take the time to get to know others.
- Promote respect for others as good manners
- Value your classmates’ opinions
- Support charitable works
- Having a mission statement that is inclusive.
- Having an effective anti-bullying policy.
- Emphasising in RE and PSCHE lessons that every person is unique and ‘created in the image of God’.
- Having active educational links with other schools.
What is it?
Respecting people’s right to freely practice any religion they choose or to live without any religion at all.
How can we promote tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs?
- Highlight how Religious Education provides pupils with a deep understanding of their own faith as well as awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities as a basis for understanding and respecting them.
- Show how Jesus encouraged tolerance in stories such as The Good Samaritan and The Woman at the Well.
Further Suggestions on how to promote British Values
- The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 states that schools’ websites must provide information on the ‘content of the curriculum followed by the school for each subject’. When doing this they may wish to highlight times at which particular Catholic and British values are emphasised.
- Schools may consider including a statement on their website which outlines the values they promote within a broad and balanced Catholic curriculum.
- Schools may wish to elaborate further what a ‘broad and balanced’ means in their context and give more specific examples of how this is achieved in their school.
How to promote British Values
Catholic school communities promote values that are both Catholic and British. By our words and actions we live out the ‘British’ values listed by the government above. However, we do much more than that, seeking to base all that we do on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Department For Education has also provided following examples of the actions schools could take to promote British values:
- Include in suitable parts of the curriculum- as appropriate for the age of pupils- material on the strengths, advantages, and disadvantages of democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain, in contrast to other forms of government in other countries;
- Ensure all pupils within the school have a voice that is listened to, and demonstrate how democracy works by actively promoting democratic processes such as a school council whose members are voted for by pupils;
- Use opportunities such as general or local elections to hold mock elections to promote fundamental British values and provide pupils with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view; and
- Consider the role of extra-curricular activity, including any run directly by pupils, in promoting fundamental British values.
The result of promoting British Values
The Department for Education provides a list that describes the understanding and knowledge expected of pupils as a result of schools promoting fundamental British values:
- An understanding of how citizens can influence devision making through the democratic process;
- An appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety;
- An understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that while some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence;
- An understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law;
- An acceptance that other people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour; and,
- An understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.
- British Values Practical Advice Feb 2015 This document provides practical advice for Catholic schools on British values. The document includes example ideas of what schools can do for each of the British values, suggestions of how to communicate British values on their school website and a section on myth busting.
- British Values – The Background This document provides the background to the British values debate and Prevent duty. Click here for the Department for Education advice for schools on the Prevent duty.
- British Values Powerpoint here is a PowerPoint connecting Catholic values and British values, which can be used to discuss British values in the classroom.