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Year of Faith 2012 - 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has set aside a special year for Catholics throughout the world to rediscover and share with others the precious gift of faith. 

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Year of Faith Website

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Catholic Education FAQ
  • How much does it cost to attend a Catholic school?

    • There is no cost involved for parents to have their child enrolled in a Catholic school. Education provision within the Catholic managed sector is free.
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  • In what way is the parish community involved with the Catholic school?

    • The parish community is closely associated with the Catholic school. At the heart of the parish is the school. Both co-exist to support the living and genuine witness of the faith. The school serves the educational and spiritual needs of the pupils and works in partnership with the parish to achieve this. In the celebration of the sacraments the parish and school community come together in a very special bond.
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  • Are Catholic schools supported by Chaplaincy arrangements?

    • Chaplaincy provision is a key feature of a Catholic school. It is a fundamental expression of the Church’s mission to respond to the pastoral needs of the school community. The bishop of the diocese has the overall responsibility for the ministry of school chaplains. In Catholic schools the chaplaincy team can include parish clergy/lay ministers/senior staff members/RE teachers.
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  • What is the provision for Catholic education at Third Level education?

    • For third level education in Northern Ireland pupils transfer to college or university. St. Mary’s University College, Belfast states that its mission is to make a distinctive contribution, in the Catholic tradition, to higher education in Northern Ireland. St. Mary’s University College in Belfast  provides Initial Teacher Training (B.Ed.) and Postgraduate qualifications (PGCE, M.Ed), as well as a BA in Liberal Arts and training for students who wish to teach in Irish medium schools.
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  • How do Catholic schools support young people to prepare for life after school?

    • The Catholic school seeks to provide a balanced and holistic education that will liberate the individual to develop their full potential to take their place in society and contribute to the Common Good. The education of the child from nursery to post primary is a continuum of varied learning experiences that develop the moral, emotional spiritual, academic, physical and social intelligences of the individual. During their life at school the pupil will be involved in a diverse range of educational visits at home and abroad, interview opportunities, work based programmes and buddying/ mentoring programmes that contribute to the preparation for playing a full role in society whenever they leave school. The PSHE programme of the school deals specifically with life related issues such as: healthy eating and living, alcohol and drug awareness, personal relationships, learning for life and work, interpersonal skills etc. Catholic schools also encourage pupils to be involved in local, community and global initiatives that work in partnership and solidarity with the disadvantaged and marginalised. At post primary level all pupils receive expert support in careers guidance. The Catholic school seeks to instil the Spirit of Christ, therefore enabling the human person to make a significant contribution to the modern world.
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  • What role do parents play in Catholic education?

    • Parents have a prominent and influential role to play in Catholic education. They are recognised as the primary educators of children. The Catholic school welcomes parents and engages in meaningful dialogue with them throughout their child’s time at school.
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  • Surely separate Catholic schools perpetuate division, How do Catholic schools work to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland?

    • The Second Vatican Council Decree on education, Gravissimum Educationis clearly embraces the belief that through education people, “should be open to dialogue with others and willingly devote themselves to the promotion of the Common Good.” The Northern Ireland Bishops have constantly reiterated that reconciliation and the celebration of diversity is at the heart of all Christian and human education. Professor Sir George Bain’s report – fully accepted by Secretary of State, Peter Hain – states “We believe that all schools, and all the educational interests, need to, and wish to, play their part in the journey towards the goal of A Shared Future.” Schools for the Future. December 2006, Page.xxv.

      Catholic schools are just as capable of promoting reconciliation as any other. Schools in the Catholic managed sector have been and continue to be fully committed to building a new society. They are ideally placed to assist society in the promotion of peace and reconciliation. Two core values of Catholic Church teaching, the theology of reconciliation and the promotion of the Common Good contribute to moving our society beyond division to a new coherence and openness. The Northern Bishops’ commitment to the Catholic education sector being proactive in building peace and reconciliation can be found in the document “Building Peace Shaping The Future.” (published 2001)
      Catholic schools foster healthy social awareness and outreach to the wider community. They participate in Education for Mutual Understanding and Citizenship programmes of learning. Through the curriculum especially in English, History, RE, and Drama pupils explore issues such as conflict, justice, tolerance and reconciliation. The RE programme contains quite specific work on the study of other religious and social traditions. In this very secular age, Catholic schools will become increasingly popular with all people who seek an education based on a clear philosophy and a commitment to offering a faith-based context for understanding the beauty and complexity of the world.
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  • Do Catholic schools enrol pupils with disabilities and special needs?

    • Catholic schools recognise that each person is created and loved by God and therefore the uniqueness of each is cherished. Celebrating diversity and inclusion is a feature of the Catholic school. Pupils with disabilities and special needs can be enrolled in a Catholic school. The Catholic managed sector believes in the right to educational access for all children and upholds the entitlement to education as laid out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2005. It is however recognised that there are some children for whom mainstream schools are not appropriate because their needs cannot be met within the physical and human resources available. It is the right of these children to have the necessary specialist facilities and expertise provided for them.
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  • What facilities and resources does the Catholic school provide?

    • The Catholic school aims to provide excellence of educational opportunity and experience for all pupils. The Catholic managed sector, under the direction of the Trustees, works to ensure that the facilities and resources available to pupils who attend Catholic schools are of a standard that support a 21st century education.
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  • How is discipline approached in the Catholic school?

    • Catholic schools attach great importance to the promotion of positive behaviour and in applying the gospel values of justice, truth, love, forgiveness and redemption. The pastoral care system, which includes discipline policy and procedures, supports an adherence to respect, tolerance and mutual understanding amongst all members of the school community.
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  • Who manages, monitors and evaluates the Catholic managed sector of education in Northern Ireland?

    • The Trustees are the custodians of schools within the Catholic managed sector. They uphold the integrity and commitment to quality education delivered within an ethos that supports the mission of the Church. The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is the advocate for the Catholic Maintained Schools sector in Northern Ireland.  CCMS represents Trustees, schools and Governors on issues such as raising and maintaining standards, the school estate and teacher employment. Voluntary grammar schools come under the governance of the diocese or the Religious Trustees who are responsible for ensuring the highest of standards within their schools. All schools within the Catholic managed sector are monitored and evaluated by the Department of Education Inspectorate. Catholic schools also employ a self evaluating strategy as a process for monitoring their performance against best practice criteria.
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  • Can people who are not Catholic apply for a job in a Catholic school?

    • All Catholic schools welcome applications for job opportunities from every section of the community.  Staff members in a Catholic school are expected to support the Vision statement, aims and ethos of the school.
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  • Can I request that my child be withdrawn from acts of formal worship?

    • Parents do have this right. No pupil is compelled to take part in a Catholic liturgy or to perform actions contrary to his or her religious conviction.
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  • Does the Catholic school provide opportunities for pupils to learn about other faiths and traditions?

    • There are many opportunities for pupils to learn about other faiths and traditions through the curriculum especially in RE, History, Geography, Citizenship and Education for Mutual Understanding.
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  • What part does RE play in the curriculum of the Catholic school?

    • Religious education is at the heart of the Catholic school. There are designated times for the specialist teaching of the RE programme of study but within the Catholic school the religious ethos and values permeate every aspect of school life. The distinctive nature of the Catholic school is its expression of the faith and the living out of the gospel values.
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  • In what ways does the Catholic school support Catholic social teaching?

    • The moral values and social teaching of the Catholic Church are upheld within the Catholic school. The gospel values influence interpersonal relationships, the delivery of the curriculum as well as policy and practice within the school. Many Catholic schools participate in campaigns and advocacy that support social justice issues particularly in relation to the developing world. School assemblies are used as opportunities to inform staff and pupils of Catholic social teaching.
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  • If I send my child to a Catholic school can I request that they do not take part in the taught R.E. programme of study?

    • Parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools should be aware that the ethos and characteristics of the Catholic faith permeate the life and teaching experience of the school community.  However, special arrangements can be made to facilitate access to representatives from other churches and traditions.
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  • Will the Catholic school support parents/guardians in preparing their children for the sacraments?

    • The Catholic school acknowledges and respects the role of parents as the first educators of their children. Parents who choose to send their children to a Catholic school are assured that they will be fully supported in the preparation of their children for the sacraments. In partnership with the parish faith community the teachers in Catholic schools provide a catechetical/ RE programme that prepares pupils for receiving and participating in the sacramental life of the church.
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  • What is the RE programme that is taught in the Catholic school?

    • The Catholic school provides a cohesive and comprehensive RE programme. Details of the themes that are covered can be found on this website by clicking on Integration and clicking on Religious Education.
          •    Primary Schools, Key Stage 1&2 follow the Alive O Programme
          •    Post Primary Schools, Key Stage 3 follow the Fully Alive Programme
          •    Post Primary Schools, Key Stage 4 follow a GCSE Programme
          •    Post Primary Post 16 follow AS RE Studies/ A2 RE Studies/ Faith in Action Programme (Non- exam)
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  • Does the Catholic school provide the full range of educational experience as outlined in the Northern Ireland curriculum?

    • Yes the Catholic school does provide the full range of educational experience as outlined in the Northern Ireland curriculum for schools. Furthermore many Catholic schools offer an extensive extra curricular programme and extended schools programme.
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  • How is faith formation developed in the Catholic school?

    • The raison d’etre of the Catholic school is for the development of the faith and inviting members of the school community to live the life of authentic apostolate. Faith formation is at the heart of the Catholic school. The school curriculum, leadership, staff/ pupil relationships, parental involvement, parish interaction, worship, prayer and social outreach assist faith formation in the Catholic school.
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  • In what ways will the curriculum of the Catholic school support the development of faith and morals?

    • The Catholic school has a sacred responsibility to promote faith and morals and the curriculum of the Catholic school provides opportunities for the development of an informed Christian conscience. Debate and discussion of contemporary and critical moral and ethical issues are addressed in a way that corresponds to the maturity level of the pupils.
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  • Do Catholic schools only provide education for those who are of the Catholic faith tradition? Who can attend a Catholic school?

    • Catholic managed schools in Northern Ireland are committed to being open, welcoming and inclusive to all pupils irrespective of their religious, cultural and ethnic background. This includes pupils of other faiths. A considerable number of Catholic schools include children of other denominations whose parents accept the Mission Statement and aims of the school.
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  • What do you really mean by a "Catholic School"? Surely all schools have the same curriculum and qualifications?

    • Someone said that education is what remains after you have forgotten all that you were ever taught! A specifically Catholic model of education has developed over the centuries – and remains very popular in most countries, because of the quality of its academic and other outcomes.

      A Catholic education starts with the belief that everyone is made in God’s image and likeness and deserves to be enabled to flourish and develop as a child of God. Education is thus not mainly about training in skills and the competitive gaining of qualifications. It is based on the belief that human beings naturally seek the integrity in their lives. Catholic education is committed to helping them seek wholeness, truth and hope in their lives, and to developing the spiritual and moral dimension to people’s lives. It is committed to a worldview that promotes justice. It seeks to develop that in people through building a school community that promotes solidarity, learning and growth. As one Catholic school principal said, “We don’t teach Catholicism as dogma but as a lens through which to view the world.”
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  • Why do Catholic Schools Exist?

    • Catholic schools exist as a response to parental choice to have their children educated in a way that supports their faith. The European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights all acknowledge the rights of parents to choose the sort of education they want for their children. Under Canon Law, the Church has a responsibility to provide Catholic education if this is requested by parents. Catholic education contributes in a positive way to a pluralist society. It provides a system of schooling that responds to the total educational needs of the young in contemporary society. The Catholic school champions freedom of conscience and the parental right to choose the school best suited to the parents’ educational purpose.
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