The nature and purpose of the Catholic school and attempts to identify the aims of Religious Education, has given rise to considerable debate, and particularly in an increasingly secularised society in which the very existence of faith-based schools is frequently questioned. Therefore it is absolutely vital that the Catholic school is seen to provide a unique and fulfilling educational experience for our young people. The central mission of the Catholic school is summed up in ‘A Charter for Catholic Schools in Scotland’ produced by the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES), in which the key aim is identified as to: “develop as a community of faith and learning, providing the highest quality of education, and offering formation through the promotion of Gospel values, through celebration and worship, and through service to the common good.”
This striving for the highest quality of education, this pursuit of excellence, is perfectly compatible with a Christian vision of the full development of human fulfilment, and in his foreword to the ‘Values for Life’ produced by the Catholic Education Commission, Bishop Joseph Devine reminds us of the words of Christ: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). Perfection and Excellence, he goes on to say, can be understood as conveying a sense of ambitious fulfilment of all human talents. This pursuit of Excellence is very much to the fore on the current Scottish educational scene through Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in which excellence is defined in terms of developing children’s capacities as:
Responsible Citizens and
In the Catholic school we teach that the basic calling of every individual is to love, and that this capacity to know the love of God and to love others as we are loved by God is the basis through which we become successful, confident, responsible and effective. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and in honouring Jesus in this way, the Department of Religious Education at St Andrew’s Academy will feature the following characteristics:
a commitment to the integrated education and formation of the whole person, in close partnership with parents as the first educators of their children;
an inclusive ethos which aims to honour the life, dignity and voice of each person, made in the image and likeness of God;
a commitment to the search for wisdom in life and to the pursuit of excellence, through the development of each person’s unique God-given talents;
a commitment to the spiritual formation of the school community, through the shared experience of prayer and liturgy, and in partnership with local parishes;
the provision of Religious Education programmes which will enable young people to develop their understanding of Gospel Values and of how to apply them to life;
the promotion of respect for different beliefs and cultures and for inter-faith dialogue.
The staff of the Department of Religious Education, as with all staff appointed to serve in the Catholic school, are fully expected to support the aims, mission, values and ethos of the school, as clearly identified in the SCES Charter, and it is within this context that the Department of Religious Education at St Andrew’s Academy is pleased to operate in contributing to the ongoing formation of our young people that they may aspire to be successful, confident, responsible and effective.