The Curriculum, British Values and our Catholic Ethos

At St Joan of Arc Catholic School we aim to meet the needs of all our students and develop each individual holistically in the light of Christ.  Our curriculum provision is engaging and challenging, ensuring all students are inspired towards high levels of progress and are capable of achieving to potential.

In years 7, 8 and 9, students develop and hone skills, knowledge and confidence across a broad and balanced selection of subjects.  Learning enthuses students, shaping resilient young people with inquisitive and creative minds who are independent and motivated - attributes integral to later success, both educationally and in life.  

In years 10 and 11, we offer students the opportunity to make personalised choices, whilst ensuring all students maintain a strong educational grounding through continued study of the facilitating subjects.  Student learning at GCSE is enhanced through expert teaching, supplementary resources (such as access to GCSE Pod) and bespoke student support in the lead-up to regular examination practice.

The curriculum in years 12 and 13 becomes increasingly personalised as students cultivate areas of specific strength and interest in preparation for future study.  Our students’ justified anticipation of high success at this level is rooted in their Catholic faith and holistic development.  Throughout the school, this remains the bedrock which underpins our educational philosophy.

British Values and Our Catholic Ethos

The government set out its definition of ‘British values’ in the ‘Prevent Strategy’ (2011), which was designed to prevent the extremism and religious radicalization of young people. British values are considered by the present government to be democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. The promotion of ‘British values’ is central to Catholic education because British values have their origin in the Christian values of our nation.

At St Joan of Arc Catholic School we recognise, not only the importance of helping students to flourish academically but also spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, so they are fully prepared for life in British society and for their role as citizens, able to make the strongest possible contribution to the Common Good of all. We teach the importance of British Values by going much deeper into the meaning of what it means to live a good life, within a framework of Catholic Christian Values. This provides the context and meaning for understanding why British values are important. Our framework for understanding British values draws on the example of Jesus and his welcome and inclusion of all, which is developed in Catholic Social Teaching.

We provide an education which focuses on the formation of the whole person and on our vocation and purpose in life. We are guided by our mission statement ‘Love Christ: Inspire Others’ and by the Christian values of honourable purpose (that is, vocation and service), respect, compassion, co-operation and stewardship as we reflect on our place and purpose in the world. 

We place a significant emphasis on the celebration of individuality and difference within our communities and our calling to work for the Common Good, in the service of others. Our Catholic ethos, which includes explicit reference to Christian and British values, makes a tangible difference to the way we work together and with our wider communities. Within this framework it would be impossible to overlook the governments view of British values expressed as ‘democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.’ The examples that follow are an indication of some of the many ways we seek to embed British values at St Joan of Arc Catholic School and should be seen as an indication of our approach rather than an exhaustive list.

The Rule of Law The importance of laws, whether they be those that govern the class, our School, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout every day, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through assemblies. The curriculum is designed to ensure Students are taught the values and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken.

Individual Liberty Within our school students are actively encouraged to make independent choices knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for students to make choices safely, through the provision of a safe environment and an empowering education. We encourage students to see themselves as unique individuals able to make a unique contribution to building community. Students are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights, responsibilities and personal freedoms and receive advice about how to exercise these safely, for example through our exploration of E-Safety in computing and their tutor time activities.

Mutual Respect Respect is one of our core values and is modelled by students and staff alike. The school actively promotes respect for others and this is reiterated through our classroom and learning environments as well as extra-curricular activities such as sport. In line with our commitment to democracy, students are always able to voice their opinions as we foster an environment where students can debate ideas and are safe to disagree with each other. We encourage students to substantiate opinions and to realised the value of co-operation and consensus as well as decision making through voting. Our emphasis on ethics, fairness and justice means that we ask our students to ensure that they look out for those who might be marginalised and disadvantaged. Our approach to teaching and learning develops mutual respect throughout the curriculum and our behaviour policy promotes the values of respect and responsibility. 

Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs This is achieved through equipping students with the ability to develop positive values, understand their own beliefs and their place in a culturally diverse society. We give our students opportunities to experience such diversity within the school and the wider community. All students experience a connection with other cultures and beliefs through our RE, PSHEE and our unique ARC Programme (Active Roman Catholics) in the senior school. The emphasis on enterprise, working with others, and learning other languages directly contributes to the appreciation of others perspectives on life. Our Religious Education curriculum follows the teaching of the Church in providing a broad and balanced education, which includes an understanding of and respect for people of other faiths or none and other religions, cultures and lifestyles.