As a Catholic school, Jesus Christ remains central to every aspect of school life. All pupils are educated in the beliefs and devotional practices of the Catholic Church. Participation in daily collective acts of worship remains at the helm of every morning and afternoon session, within RE lessons and at the end of each day. Every class prepares and leads Mass, with parents, families and parishioners warmly welcomed.
The Catholic RE scheme ‘Living and Growing as the People of God’ is followed throughout the school. This is supplemented by work on the Saints and stories from the Old and New Testaments, Circle time sessions and Personal, Social and Health Education. Children participate in special liturgies during the school year which are timed to coincide with events in the Church’s calendar.
Relationships and Family Life (Sex Education) is taught formally in all classes and is integrated into Science and RE. Parents and carers are advised that, in desiring a Catholic education for their child, it is expected that all pupils will participate in RE lessons. Parents and carers have the right to withdraw their children, although this is strongly discouraged.
All pupils learn about other religions and cultures and are encouraged to show respect and acknowledgement for the beliefs of others through open discussion and shared experiences.
Religious Education is taught for 10% of curriculum time which is 2.5 hours per week in Ks2 and 2 hrs 10mins in Ks1.
At St Thomas’ we always strive to provide quality experiences of prayer and liturgy that support pupils’ spiritual development. These communal acts of prayer and the liturgical celebrations of the Church form part of everyday life in our school. Every child is given the opportunity to pray by giving praise and thanks to God using traditional prayers of the Catholic Church and many other sources of prayer that enable this to take place. We encourage the children to nurture a relationship with God through words, symbols, song, gestures and silence. Prayer is such an integral part of school life that it can never be confined to ‘timetabled’ slots but may take place in a variety of contexts other than those specifically structured.
The 4 parts of Collective Worship are :
Gather – Listen – Respond – Go Forth
We begin or enter – this could be to music, singing together, saying a prayer or just a quiet moment. We aim to create an atmosphere of prayer.
This is a reading from scripture or sometimes another focus based on scripture. We pause at times for quiet contemplation.
This is what we do in response to the scripture. It may be quiet reflection, a formal or informal prayer or responding to bidding prayers. We may also do something such as placing a pebble or other marker on the collective worship display or share our thoughts.
We help those present to take the message away with them – prayer card, picture, common prayer, action etc.
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.
Through studying Bible stories such as Zacchaeus the tax collector and parables like the Prodigal Son, the children learn about Jesus’ teachings on repentance and forgiveness.
They learn to appreciate that God created humans with free will thus allowing them to make a decision to make good and bad choices. The children learn to think about the consequences of their actions and how this affects their relationship with God.
The children learn the structure and sequence of the Rite of Reconciliation and are fully prepared to make their Reconciliation in March.
Reconciliation takes place for all Catholic children from Y4-6 on Friday 13th December (after Mass), Friday 3rd April (after Mass) and also on Thursday 11th June for years 3 and 6 at 2pm.
Here at St Thomas’ we encourage the children to be personal examples of the life of God within us all. We create a Sacramental preparation programme, I Belong, at the beginning of the year to include the children and parents to learn together, this is usually the week before family Mass. This year Sacrament preparation will be lead by Miss Mason and Miss Leyland.
Children are reminded to attend Mass and all the Sacraments. Our Parish Priest Father Eric works alongside our parents and the school community, in the children's preparation for receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation and Eucharist. Children then make their first Reconciliation in the March of Year 3 and receive their First Communion during June.
This year the sacraments will take place as follows: Sacrament of Reconciliation Tuesday 17th March, 6pm and Sacrament of Eucharist Saturday 13th June, 12:15pm
During year 6, the children prepare to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. The children prepare for the Sacrament at home, in class and in the parish.
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 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 work, 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 participate in monthly sacramental meetings lead by Mrs Baxter and Mrs Parker. The children attend these meetings alongside their families to show their commitment to their faith, they also are encouraged to 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 day itself is a great celebration with children, parents, clergy, staff and members of the parish.
Prayers linked to Confirmation
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful,
and kindle in them the fir of your love.
Send forth your Spirit,
and they shall be created,
and you will renew the face of the earth.
O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful
by the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant that by the gift of the same Spirit
we may be always truly wise,
and ever rejoice in his consolation,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This year Confirmation takes place on Thursday June 11th, 7pm at St Giles.