1. A religious dimension to the school’s life
The Catholic school expresses its community identity and ideals in its worship – religious assemblies, key events, themes, feast-days and seasons are celebrated, and prayer is built into the rhythm of school life. The quality of participation varies, naturally, with individual faith-life.
Solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged:
The Catholic school is particularly sensitive to the call for a more just society and it tries to make its own contribution towards its realisation. This includes trying to put the demands of justice into practice in the daily life of the school. It also includes educating the learners to a sense of social responsibility and solidarity with the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised. In practice this takes different forms, responding wherever possible to local needs, concerns and outreach.
The Catholic school takes time and trouble to evaluate its life against the challenges of its context, seen in both local and broader terms, and to confront influences that are hostile to human dignity. Both educators and learners are encouraged to acquire the skills of critical reflection and social analysis as helpful tools for the exercise of responsible citizenship.
2. Religious Education according to the broad Catholic approach
A Catholic school curriculum includes a substantial Religious Education programme, the principles, truths and ethics of which permeate whatever the school does. This programme is life-centred, broad and multi-faceted, encompassing personal growth as well as moral formation and explicitly religious exploration and practice. The programme is consistent with the Religious Education Policy for schools as approved by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. It is rooted in the Catholic tradition but the breadth of this accommodates others from similar religious traditions, while those from different religious traditions participate in ways that nurture their own spiritual development. In general, all learners participate in this programme in ways and at levels that are appropriate for the individual at the time. The right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience is, however, respected and special arrangements may be made in consultation with parents. The Religious Education programme attempts to address educational needs within a Christian framework. Ecclesial initiation may be left to the learners’ own families and Church communities, with the school complementing and facilitating the process, or Catholic learners may be prepared for reception of the Sacraments by their school. A learner leaving a Catholic school should have had, at the appropriate level, the opportunity for an experiential grounding in scripture, theology, morality, social justice, philosophy and spirituality of a high educational standard.
3. Harmony with the values of the Catholic Church
The Catholic school stands in solidarity with the Catholic Church, sharing in the mission of its Bishop as principal teacher of the local Church. Ultimately, the reason for the Catholic schools existence is to incarnate and teach Gospel values for the good of its members and of the broader community. To do this assumes freedom of conscience in matters of justice and curriculum values.
4. An understanding with each member of the school community
The Catholic school aims to be a community. All staff, as well as learners with their parents, freely choose to join, knowing what this community strives to be, what it offers, and what it expects of its members. These things should be made known to all learners’ families and all staff when they apply to join the school community. It should be understood that membership of the community depends on the honouring of these terms and that while the right to freedom of religion and conscience of each individual is respected, it would not be fair to join the community simply for selected benefits seen in isolation from the school’s total mission. It is not acceptable for any official of the Department, for staff, learners or parents to actively undermine the school’s religious and moral values.