- Aims & ethos
- Partnership with parents
- Class couples
- Character development
- Spiritual aspect
- Key parent functions
- Tutorial system
- Opus Dei
Aims & ethos
Our philosophy of education is based on a « character first » approach.
Our philosophy of education is based on a « character first » approach; that is, we strive to develop in children those qualities of greatness that will not only enable the achievement of academic potential but will also help in every other aspect of their life at school and, crucially, after school.
At Agnes School we offer a service to parents to help them to form their children so that they grow up to be outstanding young men and women. This vision is underpinned by three fundamental commitments:
An all round education: an uncompromising commitment to personal, academic, cultural and sporting excellence.
Growth in virtue within a Catholic ethos: children follow a programme of character development based on a Christian vision of what young children can and should become.
A Partnership with parents: a practical working partnership with the family of each child where parents and teachers become allies in the shared endeavour of raising children they can be proud of.
Partnership with parents
Agnes School recognises that parents are the first educators of their children.
Through a system of education which is personalised, we seek to integrate the pursuit of academic excellence, the acquisition of skills and the development of the pupil’s character.
Agnes School is a family school, where the educational rights of the family effectively come first. The school seeks to assist parents to be more effective educators of their children and to provide for the overall development of the pupils.
Agnes School teachers and staff are vital partners with parents in the child’s education. The basis of this partnership is a loyal and mutual understanding of each other’s complementary roles.
The Personalised Tutorial System ensures that each child is helped to be the best person they can be. It facilitates the partnership between parents and school: the only way to ensure the children receive a holistic and efficacious education.
Parents also benefit from the courses IDF (Institut de la Famille) over education.
Click “Calendar” in “News & Events” to view our courses 2014-2015.
« Class couples » seek to ensure that fellow parents personally experience the warmth, concern and interest that is at the heart of the spirit of the school.
They take a genuine concern and interest in each of the families in their class and endeavour to personally connect with the parents. They welcome new families to the school and assist them with settling in.
Class couples ensure that support for families is there when this is needed.
Class couples act as a communication link between the school and the parents in their class.
In addition, Class couples facilitate discussion groups for the sharing of ideas in parenting.
Character development and human virtues
Our philosophy at Agnes School is founded on a Catholic vision of human beings: we are all open to improvement and by doing the right thing we become happier in our daily lives.
This is what is meant by Virtue Ethics: by cultivating the virtues (a good habit) we can become better people i.e. to become patient I need to practice patience. And if we persevere, our character will improve. We also believe that this is one of the key aims of education: to enable our pupils to lead ‘the good life’. These virtues are taught within the context of a Catholic ethos by following closely the teaching of the Catholic Church.
For this reason, fostering the development of Human Virtues is pivotal at Agnes School.
The four core human qualities through which character is forged are:
1. Justice, manifested in personal responsibility
Each person has certain duties to perform at home, at school and in the wider community. By adolescence, young people begin to hold their destiny and that of others in their hands. Action or inaction has consequences. An understanding of Justice will lead them to act rightly.
2. Good Judgement
The ability to judge what is right in each situation and following a worthy set of values.
Development of personal strength which enables one to persevere in things that are worthwhile.
The ability to exercise self-discipline in a myriad of ways.
All other virtues flow from these four.
Working with parents, Agnes School aims to empower its pupils to become competent, responsible, considerate and committed young men and women.
The Human Virtues and Character Development Programme
This programme focuses on
Human Virtues Lesson
The Class Teacher and pupils discuss and reflect upon the virtue under study. A range of materials and resources are used to illustrate and explore each theme.
Opportunity is often taken to illustrate some point relating to the virtue being considered or present some inspirational material.
This one-to-one discussion with pupils provides another opportunity to discuss virtues on a personal level.
Material of particular relevance or interest can be exchanged. Parents have a wealth of personal experience and knowledge that can lead to new ideas and topics.
The decision for a single-sex education is based on a number of pedagogical reasons, notably with an end to reach a higher academic performance.
Single-sex education can be given in different ways. The basic idea is to integrate in the pedagogy the physical and psychological aspects of the child as a girl or boy. Although most classes are taught in mixed classes, this dimension is integrated into teaching. Some activities are given in single-sex class.
Single-sex education help children acquire greater self-confidence, while at the same time the specific needs of each child can be taken into account.
The spiritual development of the pupils at Agnes School forms an integral part of its philosophy of personalised education.
Agnes School stresses the primary role parents play in their children’s spiritual development.
Pupils, regardless of their particular religious faith, are encouraged to foster their relationship with God and to develop their spiritual life with a genuine spirit of freedom and commitment. This enables them to be enriched as human beings and to be excellent persons in every sense of the word.
The Religious Education Programme which is offered gives pupils the opportunity to acquire a deep understanding of the Catholic Faith and its practice. Intrinsic to this is the greatest respect for the freedom of consciences. All pupils have Religion lessons covering topics such as the Sacraments, Moral Theology, Church History and Sacred Scripture.
The Chaplain of the School is a priest of Opus Dei, a Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church.
Mass is celebrated three times a week by the School Chaplain.
Pupils have the opportunity to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly.
Key parent functions
Key Parent Functions are a major feature at Agnes School. They provide an on-going program to assist parents in the education of their children and in the dynamics of parenting.
The core of Agnes School’s Charter of Educational Principles is a commitment to work with parents in the all important task of raising their children to become competent, responsible young men and women who lead their lives by noble principles.
Whilst attendance at other parental events and activities is not compulsory, the Key Parent Functions form part of the ‘contract’ that exists between parents and the school. Attendance at these functions is therefore vital for parents enrolling their children at Agnes School, as it ensures that parents and teachers are united in their approach.
The Key Parent Functions are:
1. Information Evening
The focus in the Autumn term is on academic and general ethos issues. The Information Evening in September sets out the educational priorities for the year and provides an opportunity for parents to be reminded of the school’s broader goals. A meeting with the Headmaster takes place in the hall before parents split into year groups for more age-related discussions.
2. Parent/teacher meetings
These meetings take place each term between parents and teachers and form the basis of all the academic goal setting for the months ahead. Parents are also informed about their children’s performance in class and in national standardised tests.
3. Tutor meetings
These termly meetings are between parents of junior aged children and their tutors. The aim is to discuss broader educational goals and to reflect on the child’s growth in the virtues.
4. Headmaster’s talks for parents
These take place in the Spring & Summer terms and cover a whole range of issues relating to the teaching of the virtues and to parenting in general.
Sample of topics covered by Key Parent Functions and other events:
Education in Human Love: A Parental Responsibility
Preparation for secondary school transfer
Developing virtue in young children
Fostering study skills in older pupils
Helping children to develop social skills & friendships.
The tutorial system exists as a consequence of the philosophy underlying Agnes School: parents are the first educators of their children.
The tutorial system exists as a consequence of the philosophy underlying Agnes School: parents are the first educators of their children. Recognising this leads to a fundamental need to establish a close and constant link between the school and the parents. At Agnes School this contact is the tutor. The tutor’s task is to take a direct and personal interest in each child’s development.
The principal area of education which the tutorial system addresses is the student’s character. Everything else, including academic results, flows from this. Academic results are part of a bigger picture. Indeed the curriculum as a whole is the primary means by which the virtues are taught at school. Agnes School’s aim is to work with parents in the education of the whole person academically, spiritually, culturally, socially and physically.
Parents meet with tutors several times a year. Tutors meet regularly with individual pupils.
The things tutors talk about
During the school years character will be largely formed by the approach to schoolwork.
2. Character Development
The tutor aims to use every opportunity to encourage the pupil to develop character and they do this hand in hand with the Virtues Programme in place at the school.
3. Moral and Spiritual Topics
Whether parents and children are of the Catholic faith, or hold other beliefs, we work together when it comes to moral principles.
4. Social Development
Contribution to the wider society with generosity and understanding is important. We aim to foster an attitude of service.
The tutorial system can help parents
See situations objectively
View crises positively
Focus on the big issues
Talk more with one’s spouse
Talk more with one’s daughter/son
Reflect on the importance of example
Grow in one’s own virtue
Topics of tutorials with pupils will include
Generosity and Service
Contribution to family life
Laziness and counteracting it
Application to study
Use of time
Use of money
Beliefs and values
The Spiritual dimension of life
An essential key to full personal development lies in having personalised goals. These goals need to be appropriate, easy to remember, specific, achievable and able to be evaluated.
Making the most of the parent-tutor meeting
The regular meetings between parents and the tutor are a valuable assistance to parents in the exercise of their privilege and duty as ‘first educators’. The parents receive the tutor’s full support through:
1. Their observations and advice
2. The coordination of the professional services of the school
3. The service of personal example, guidance and friendship towards the parent and the pupil.
The greater the cooperation, confidence and friendship existing between the parents and the tutor, the more effectively will the parents be assisted in carrying out their own responsibility of directing the integral development of the child.
The success of the Tutorial System rests upon trust and the regular meetings with the tutor.
Before the meeting with the tutor
1. Buy a notebook!
2. Organise the interview time well ahead.
3. Evaluate together the previous parent- tutor meeting goals. Consider successes and failures. Were the goals realistic? Did your child know about the goal and see it as important? Were things in place to help them remember their targets? Have you yourselves come to a deeper understanding of your child through observing their efforts?
4. Discuss together the broader issues. Use the opportunity of the forthcoming interview to consider character strengths and weaknesses, growth in personal responsibility, the qualities you would like to see your child possess as an adult (optimism, generosity, self-direction, readiness to apologise, resoluteness).
5. Consider the virtues most appropriately developed at your child’s present age.
6. Consider one or two aspects of their physical, social, cultural or spiritual development.
7. Evaluate your own performance! Did you set a strategy for following up the goals from the last interview? Did you provide enough encouragement and incentive? Were you cheerful and optimistic? How is the area of personal example? Was there a consistent follow-up? Do you as spouses have common expectations?
8. Be positive. Parents’ diligent efforts always bear fruit over time. Look on problems as opportunities.
During the parent-tutor meeting
1. Bring the notebook!
2. Review the last term’s goals
The quality of the review largely depends on prior preparation. There will be much greater objectivity and productivity in the discussion if thought has gone on before hand. The tutor will have discussed your child’s overall progress with their teachers and with the pupil several times since your last interview.
3. Exchange impressions and information
This may well include a review of the last report, topical issues in the school and class etc.
4. Re-focus on the key issues
Aim to ensure that the parent-tutor meeting comes to grips with character issues and growth in virtue. Your child’s academic motivation is, to a large extent, a consequence of their character development.
5. Set goals for the coming term.
This may be a matter of refining earlier goals, or restating them with a change of emphasis. Be aware that the same issues will recur in successive terms and even years. It could be a sign of superficiality if they do not. However, recurrent issues require realistic, specific, achievable short-term goals so that there is progress.
6. Develop a follow-up strategy.
This may well involve discussing ways of helping your child take responsibility for personal goals, quick parent-tutor contact throughout the term, mother and child / father and child time together etc.
7. Restate and record goals.
Both parents and tutor need to note goals and strategies. This makes it easier for parents to discuss the goals between themselves and with the child, to keep them high in the list of priorities, and to give the child encouragement.
After the parent-tutor meeting
1. Work together with your spouse. Talk about how the child is progressing. Discuss your own efforts to help them to reach the goal.
2. Implement the follow-up strategies. Talk it through with your child soon and remember that it is your child’s goal. Help them to take responsibility and to evaluate progress.
3. Spend time with your child. Listen to, and speak with them. This involves:
reaching this young person’s level, understanding what is on their mind
being a trusted parent and friend
sharing common interests
motivating rather than only correcting and lecturing.
4. Link up with your child’s tutor whenever it seems useful. The tutor is there to help you. Call on them as needed. Things do not have to be limited to the meeting. Sometimes a quick call or a brief update can do much to increase the effectiveness of the tutorial system.
Our Chaplain celebrates Mass three times a week. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available to the pupils on a regular basis.
Parents, relatives, friends and past pupils are welcome to approach the Chaplain for guidance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
On Tuesday 12:35 pm; Wednesday 11:40 am and Thursday 8:35 am a mass is held at school for pupils and parents .
Once a month, on Sunday, there is a mass held for families.
All are most welcome to attend.
Opus Dei oversees the religious education and spiritual formation offered to the school’s parents, teachers and pupils.
Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church founded in 1928 by St. Josemaría Escrivá, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. Its mission is to help people turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society. Within Agnes School and in concert with the local bishop, Opus Dei oversees the religious education and spiritual formation offered to the school’s parents, teachers and pupils.
Many of the special strengths of Agnes School reflect the spirit of Opus Dei:
Academic excellence by striving for personal holiness in ordinary work
Individual character formation through a one-to-one tutorial system
Teachers who exemplify Christian principles
Practical classes on parenting skills and character development
An atmosphere imbued with optimism, cheerfulness, and friendliness
Visit the Opus Dei website for more information.