The Mission Statement of the School:
‘Making the heart, mind and spirit soar’
‘By following in the footsteps of Jesus,
we are making the heart, mind and spirit soar.
Our actions and words of today are the footprints of our future.
As a Catholic school, our mission and purpose is rooted in the teaching of Christ. We are committed to:
- enabling children to learn creatively, achieve their best personally and develop independently in a happy, secure, Catholic environment;
- nurturing and developing relationships with God, enabling all concerned to share their faith and God given talents in the service of others;
- valuing individuals; encouraging them to value others and make a positive contribution to their socially and multi-culturally diverse community;
- enabling children to celebrate their own and others’ achievements in a spirit of love, joy, peace and gentleness;
- developing a firm foundation to provide children with the skills necessary to make the correct choices in life guided by the Holy Spirit;
- building upon a Catholic community of faith actively promoting the partnership between home, school and parish;
- ensuring that children are safe in the knowledge that everyone will be valued for their differences; knowing that they are created in the image and likeness of God.
Aims of Religious Education
The Religious Education of children at St Thomas Aquinas aims:
1) To present engagingly a comprehensive content, which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
2) To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
3)To present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching so that pupils can make a critique of the underlying trends in contemporary culture and society;
4) To raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
5) To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
6) To stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
7)To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
8) To bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture.
The outcome of excellent Religious Education is religiously literate and engaged young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to reflect spiritually, and think ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life.
How We Meet Our Stated Aim:
The Scheme of Work
At St Thomas Aquinas, we follow the Diocesan scheme of work “Learning and Growing as the People of God” and the additional multi-faith coverage recommended for each year group by the Diocese. Class teachers have a long term overview of RE, in line with the liturgical year. RE is taught discretely and 10% of curriculum time is dedicated to the teaching of RE. There is a specific whole school assessment focus each year; for the academic year 2018- 2019, the assessment strand is 'Living as Christians'.
Prayer and Collective Worship
A collective act of worship should take place every day, within class, year group, key stage or as a whole school. Each teaching session should begin and end with a prayer. (Morning Offering; Grace Before and After Meals; End of Day prayer.) In addition, the school starts the week with whole school assembly on Monday, before the morning break; this assembly focuses upon the Sunday Gospel message. On Friday, a merit assembly takes place for the whole school, in which we recognise and celebrate our God-given talents. The Foundation Stage join together for daily collective worship.
Masses take place in the school hall. Whole school masses are held at least at the beginning and end of each term and on any major feasts and Holy Days of Obligation that occur within the year. Each class from Year 1 upwards will also have a termly class Mass.
Class assemblies take place termly, with a specific focus upon our Catholic faith and mission.
Family, friends and parishioners are warmly invited to both assemblies and Masses.
Teaching and Learning in R.E. at St. Thomas Aquinas:
R.E is taught in discrete, timetabled lessons by the class teacher.
Lessons follow the Long-Term R.E plan.
Lessons are differentiated according to ability in R.E and delivered to the whole, mixed-ability class.
Lessons are delivered using a variety of written, creative, discussion, multi-sensory and research activities.
Learning takes place within whole group, guided and independent work.
R.E. develops the children’s body of knowledge of scripture, beliefs, traditions, and history.
Children are encouraged to understand tradition, actions and opinions of their own Catholic faith and the faith of others.
Children are invited to question and to reflect on their own and others’ beliefs responses.
Where appropriate, lessons include liturgical reflection.
Sacraments at St. Thomas Aquinas:
In Year 3 children receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In preparation for this Sacrament, the children reflect on the fact that they are children of God and that this impacts on the way they treat others.
The children learn about Jesus’ teachings on repentance and forgiveness through studying Bible stories such as Zacchaeus the tax collector and parables like the Prodigal Son. They learn to appreciate that God created humans with free will allowing them to make a decision to make good and bad choices. The children are encouraged to think about the consequences of their actions and how this affects their relationship with God.
The children study the structure and sequence of the Rite of Reconciliation and are fully prepared to make their Reconciliation during the season Lent. The Sacrament of Reconciliation took place on 13th March 2019 at Our Lady of the Angels & St. Peter in Chains Church.
First Holy Communion
Once the children in Year 3 have made the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they receive the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. This took place on Sunday 23rd June 2019, the children worked very hard at home, in school and in the parish to ensure that they were fully prepared to receive Jesus into their hearts. On the day the children were a credit to their families and to the school. They were reverent throughout and their behaviour was outstanding. What a wonderful occasion it was! May God bless you and guide you always.
Children are invited to participate in a Mass of enrolment to make a commitment before God that they and their families will take on the responsibilities placed before them.
During Religious Education lessons in school, the children study the Last Supper when Jesus shared his last meal with the disciples. They look in particular at the breaking of the bread and how this is similar to the celebration of the Mass. By examining the words of Jesus at the Last Supper and the priest at Mass, they learn to appreciate that we are present with Jesus every time we go to Mass.
The children study all of the parts of the Mass in detail over the year but focus particularly on the Liturgy of the Eucharist leading up to the celebration of First Holy Communion. By exploring each of the parts of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in detail, the children learn that the Mass is a celebration of thanksgiving and that during the Eucharistic prayer, the priest asks the Holy Spirit to change the gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Alongside their lessons in school, the children attend Mass with their families each week and pray at home as a family. The children are encouraged to read Bible stories together and discuss their Religious Education lessons. The children are given various tasks to complete at home linked to their First Holy Communion.
In Year 6, the children prepared to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. This took place on Sunday 9th June 2019, they prepared for the Sacrament at home, in class and in the parish. Children were invited to participate in a Mass of enrolment to make a commitment before God that they and their families take on the responsibilities placed before them.
During Religious Education lessons in school, the children study the Holy Spirit in detail. They look at the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit and think about how these will work in their future lives. The children study the events of Pentecost and think about how they will be like the disciples when the Holy Spirit comes down upon them. As Confirmation is a Sacrament of initiation, the children explore how Baptism and Confirmation are linked, focusing in particular at the signs and symbols used in both.
As part of their journey, children prepare a project on the saint of their choice. They are encouraged to select the name of a saint who has inspired them in some way. A sponsor is also chosen and has the role of supporting the child in their spiritual life. The children also have the opportunity of taking part in spiritual retreats which enrich and deepen the understanding of their faith.
Alongside their lessons in school, the children attend Mass with their families each week and pray at home as a family. The children are encouraged to read Bible stories together and discuss their Religious Education lessons.