The formation of Christian values underpins the entire school program and all that we do at St Francis of Assisi. Students also experience formal Religious Education lessons each day based upon the Religious Education curriculum set by the Bishop of Wollongong in conjunction with Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong.
The Emmaus Story (Luke 24:13-35) is central to the Religious Education curriculum. The curriculum is based on the four movements of the Emmaus story.
The Religious Education curriculum aims to assist students to reflect upon, make sense of, celebrate and live more deeply the mystery of Christ. Relationship with God is nurtured through catechesis, prayer and ritual enabling/supporting students to contribute positively to the community and culture. The content strands and themes of learning aim to lead students towards love of God, love for others and for all of creation as they become open to the presence and activity of God in their lives.
Explicitly for RE, the teaching and learning process should incorporate storytelling and creative arts, and foster the development of the four cognitive processes of Religious Literacy:
Our task as educators in Catholic schools is to provide quality Catholic learning and teaching opportunities for our students and the RE curriculum documents bring together the richness of the tradition of the Catholic faith and culture with the best of contemporary methods of teaching and resources.
The resource book 'To Know, Worship and Love' is one resource that is a major support and tool for our curriculum.
One of the aims of Religious Education (RE) in our Catholic schools is to develop our students' ‘Religious Literacy’ – that is, the way children use their literacy skills to communicate their understanding of the religious tradition to themselves, their peers, teachers and members of the wider faith community.
“By the end of their schooling students know the core teachings of our faith, our Scriptures, history and tradition and how these are to be lived in the world" — Catholic Schools at a Crossroad (2007)
The Religious Literacy Assessment program in the Diocese of Wollongong provides information about the way children process and express their religious knowledge. The assessment involves all Year 4 students across the diocese and consists of a multiple choice and short answer paper, focusing on the students' knowledge and understanding of the key concepts that are taught throughout their Religious Education from Kindergarten to Year 4, and what this means for the way we live, as it is applied in society.
The tasks are developed around the Religious Literacy Framework of Knowing the Tradition, Working with the Tradition, Applying the Tradition and Valuing the Tradition, reflecting Stage 1 and Stage 2 outcomes of the RE curriculum. The data gathered from the assessment is analysed to inform learning and teaching in schools, to focus on professional learning and to recognise and celebrate learning in the domain of Religious Education in the Wollongong Diocese.
Our school classrooms and playgrounds play an essential role in nurturing core ecological values. At St Francis of Assisi, everyone is encouraged and taught to care, think and act in communion with God's creation. Pope Francis delivered an important encyclical (1995), 'Laudato Si' – On Care for Our Common Home'.
Environmental education is particularly vital, as it shapes how our younger generation care for our common home. As a school, we have made a very purposeful commitment to educating our students about care for our common home and, importantly, doing our very best to sustain our goals. We strive to incorporate ecology into educational and school management practices by involving our community in a range of initiatives that empower our students to support the ongoing care of creation through:
Our sacramental programs are parish-based and prepare children for the reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation (Year 3); Eucharist-First Communion (Year 3); and Confirmation (Year 6). Our Religious Education Coordinator, supported by members of the staff and parish, coordinates the programs. As we acknowledge and support the parents as the first educators in their children’s faith, both children and their parents are required to attend the lessons during the preparation for the sacraments.
Each year, Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong invites Catholic primary schools from across the diocese to submit artworks from Year 5 and 6 students to enter in the CEDoW Christmas Story Art Competition. Approximately fifty entries that are deemed to best meet the criteria are chosen for an exhibition at the Wollongong City Art Gallery, which is open to the public, commonly around the last weeks of Term 3 and over the October school holiday period each year. Major awards are given at the opening of the exhibition, and approximately 12 finalists are selected for entry into the Sydney Archdiocese Christmas Story Art Competition and Exhibition.
Each year, Year 6 students from across the Diocese of Wollongong gather together to celebrate in an uplifting Mass with the Bishop of Wollongong. This occasion is an opportunity for students to encounter Christ through the Eucharist, through their fellow students gathered together and through the presence of Bishop Brian Mascord. The Year 6 Mass also aims to help students understand their place in the diocese, being part of the broader Church community and how they might embrace their Catholic faith as they take their next steps into secondary school.