Pastoral and Spiritual
Theme Of the Week
Theme of the Week = Lent
We’ve officially entered into the most important weeks/Months of the churches calendar, now that we’re currently in the season of Lent with Easter and Pentecost just around the corner. I would like to encourage all in our school family to ask themselves this question over the coming weeks, ‘What sort of person do I want to be?’ As family members of the Catholic Church who’s message and mission is to live out a life of love for our neighbour and for God; I feel that it is a fundamental part of our faith, to wake up every morning look yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, ‘what sort of person do I want to be today’. I passionately believe that every single person’s instinct and wish is to be an example of friendship and love; and of course, to do good deeds. This Lenten season I would encourage you to work tirelessly to strive for better in all that you do and pray for Gods guidance and forgiveness in those instances when we fail him. Our local parishes are offering people to come forward and experience Gods mercy through the powerful Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession), we’re always being encouraged by our Church’s leaders to enter into the Sacrament as frequently as we possibly can and to make an extra special effort to receive it during the season of Lent. Please remember that over this season we should emulate Christ who fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. Christ took this time in the desert to think about what his life’s mission was to be; let us for the next few weeks follow Christ into the wilderness by making a special effort to abstain from those things we enjoy that we may take for granted and spend time in reflection and prayer thinking about our respective missions here on earth. Remember, ‘What sort of person do you want to be?” May God Bless and be with you all during this season of Lent.
Assemblies will be led by Ant Hunt (School Chaplain).
Transform our hearts this Lent,
through our prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Help us to be open to the needs of those around us.
move us to share with all people
the Love Christ has shown.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
It is essential for every student to feel that they are an important part of the community and that they can contribute to the life of the school. At The Catholic High School, this is established through an ethos of respect and compassion for others. Each student's happiness is important to members of staff and to other students.
Building a community involves learning to respect others and to live alongside people holding different opinions. For some students it may be important to learn how to be more assertive, while others benefit from developing greater listening skills. The tutors put great emphasis on helping students to grow in these areas.
Every student is part of a small tutor group with others of the same age. Tutors specialise in the requirements of that particular age group. Academic progress and extra-curricular programmes are closely monitored and regular, individual meetings with the tutor offer a chance to discuss any personal issues and to resolve any problems quickly. Talking together, the tutor and students can also look at their work as a whole and set targets to improve standards of achievement.
Tutor groups are organised into Year Groups, each of which has a Head of Year who has an overview of the achievement and well-being of every student in the Year. Along with the tutors, the Head of Year reviews academic progress, behaviour and attendance of all students.
Our team of Year Heads are:
- Year 7 – Mrs A Bilko
- Year 8 – Miss Sargeant
- Year 9 – Mr J Rhodes
- Year 10 – Mr D Green
- Year 11 – Mrs B Letissier
Arrangements in the Sixth Form are a little different with an overall Head of Sixth Form and two year heads working with each year group.
- Sixth Form Lead – Ms Mort
Chaplaincy plays an important role at The Catholic High School, with Anthony Hunt, the lay chaplain, providing spiritual support and guidance, supporting the outstanding pastoral care, and working closely with the RE department. The purpose of Chaplaincy is to support staff and students, who form the school community, through encouragement, friendship, prayer and a listening ear. Students at The Catholic High School have a variety of opportunities to explore what it means to be Catholic, with a strong emphasis on exploring what it means to put faith into practice.Masses and Liturgy We are lucky to have the support of the priests from our local parishes who come into school regularly throughout the year. They celebrate Mass with us, and give students the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. There are opportunities for prayer and worship throughout the school year, with special services to mark key times in the Christian year.
Whole School Masses We have a whole school Mass to celebrate Christmas and the end of the school year, and to celebrate Holy Days that fall in term time. The RE department work closely with Anthony and other staff to plan these Masses, and there is a lot of student involvement. Students deliver readings, lead us in our musical worship, and write bidding prayers.
Year Group Masses To mark the beginning and end of students’ time at The Catholic High School, we have a Year 7 Welcome Mass for students and families, and a Year 11 Leavers Mass. For these Masses, forms and form tutors work with Anthony and the RE department.
Voluntary Masses Every half term a voluntary Mass is celebrated at 8.30 in the Chapel. This is open to all students and staff and is well attended.
Advent and Lent During these times of preparation, all students attend a service in the Chapel led by Anthony. These services offer students the opportunity to reflect more deeply on Christmas and Easter. During Lent, all students in Year 8 and 9 have a reconciliation service, with the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation from one of the priests.
Easter Liturgies At the end of the Easter term, students from across the school deliver an Easter liturgy to each year group. This draws together the musical and dramatic talents of our students, and gives the school community the opportunity to prepare more deeply for Easter and to reflect on what Easter means to us as a community and to them personally.
Spiritual Life of the School
The Catholic High School has a rich spiritual life which integrates three key dimensions of the Catholic Faith. Our students should understand their faith, love their faith and put their faith into action. This idea of 'head', 'heart' and 'hands' faith should give all out young people the opportunity to grow as young Christians in an increasingly secular world.
1. Understanding our Faith (Head Faith)
The school has a thriving RE department, responsible for delivering religious education to every student in the school. The subject is approached academically and examinations in Religious Studies are taken at GCSE and Theology (Philosophy and Ethics) at A level. In this way RE is accessible to students of all faiths and none. However, for practising Catholic students, RE can make a valuable contribution to their understanding of the Catholic faith.
In addition, the chaplaincy team prepares a weekly 'Theme of the Week' which is entered on the school calendar for the academic year. The theme covers key events in the liturgical calendar and in the spiritual life of the school. It is explored by form tutors during tutorial time and through year assemblies. To help deliver the theme a weekly resource is prepared for teachers by the chaplaincy team. The theme and prayer of the week is posted on the school's website so that parents, governors and local clergy can be aware of what our students our focusing upon each week.
The RE department also organises special RE days for students in Years 7, 8 and 9, and voluntary retreats are offered to students in Years 9, 11 and the Sixth Form.
2. Our Relationship with Christ (Heart Faith)
Every school day and every tutor period and assembly start with the prayer of the week. This prayer reflects the seasons of the church year, and the needs and concerns of our school community. For example, this year the prayer started with 'Welcome Back' and moved through advent to the Christmas season, while at times when examinations feature, the prayer will be based on 'Don't Give Up' or 'Do Not Worry'.
There is a weekly voluntary Mass celebrated in the recently refurbished chapel which provides a focal point for worship and reflection. All classes are taken in to the chapel for special services organised by the RE department during Advent and Lent.
There are whole-school Masses at the start and end of the school year, special leavers’ Masses for Years 11 and 13, a welcome Mass for parents of Year 7 and an Advent Carol Service for parents and students. The last week of the Easter term sees very moving presentations of the Passion and Resurrection presented to each year group in the school hall.
The programme of voluntary residential retreats also contributes to this aspect of the spiritual life of the school, introducing students to different forms of reflection, meditation and prayer, as well as being tremendous fun. The retreats are popular and are usually over-subscribed.
3. Community Action and Charity Work (Hands Faith)
The school deliberately ensures that our students are given a wide range of opportunities to be generous to others.
The school regularly promotes the CAFOD Fast Days and the Catholic Children's Society (the Good Shepherd appeal). Recently there have been special whole-school events such as the 'Water Aid Project', 'Who is my Neighbour' and 'Live Life to the Full' which, as well as raising funds for charities, also raise awareness of a variety of needs within the local and global community.
There are Youth SVP groups in Years 10 and 12 which enable students to put faith into action through one-to-one support for people in need in the local community. This work includes helping children at St. Clare’s primary school, supporting children from Dorin Park special school and entertaining local elderly people. The Youth SVP groups elect their own president and meet to pray together and to plan their community work.
Students in Year 11 and above also take part in the diocesan youth pilgrimage to Lourdes each summer where they support the elderly and infirm.