Education in Catholic schools focuses on the development of the whole human person: intellectually, physically, socially, emotionally and of course, spiritually. The distinctive religious dimension of the Catholic school is manifest in many ways, one of which is the school’s Religious Education programme. This is a vital part of the school’s curriculum and takes a number of forms.
Religious Education in the classroom setting is approached with the same educational methodology as any other Key Learning Area within the school’s curriculum. Teachers use a Religious Education programme mandated by the Bishop; they collaboratively plan and teach Religious Education lessons using a variety of engaging and practical strategies, many of which are also used in other learning areas; they assess the content and skills which have been taught; and report regularly to parents.
Teaching Religious Education requires more than just the delivery of knowledge, however and Religious Education teachers are also witnesses to the faith for their students. This sharing of faith is an ongoing and mutual process in which teachers and students learn from each other and grow together in faith.
A distinct but complementary aspect of the school’s religious dimension is the liturgical and prayer life of the school community. Together students, staff, parents and other members of the community pray regularly in a variety of settings, celebrate sacraments and feasts in both small and whole school groups and reach out to the wider community in action for justice, including care for the poor, which stems from this active spiritual life.
Religious Education within the Catholic school is of course not confined to ‘official’ Religious Education classes or liturgical occasions. Christ is at the centre of all endeavours in Catholic Education. As believers faithful to the Gospel and attempting to live out Christ’s mission in the world, the members of the Catholic school community express this Christ-centred vision in all aspects of school life. Actions in the playground, conduct at sports, behaviour management, enrolment policies, pastoral care, relationships between staff, students and parents and classroom teaching, all reflect this core belief. The religious dimension of the Catholic School is therefore present, to some degree, in all the activities of the school community.