Working in a Xavier School
What does it mean to work in a Xavier Catholic school?
“Prime responsibility for creating this unique Christian school climate rests with the teachers, as individuals and as a community. The religious dimension of the school climate is expressed through the celebration of Christian values in Word and Sacrament, in individual behaviour, in friendly and harmonious interpersonal relationships, and in a ready availability. Through this daily witness, the students will come to appreciate the uniqueness of the environment to which their youth has been entrusted. If it is not present, then there is little left which can make the school Catholic”.
(Congregation for Catholic Education 1988:26)
Welcome to the Xavier Catholic Education Trust. We are a group of fifteen Catholic schools serving children and families across Surrey. Working in a Catholic school is different and it’s important that everyone understands the important part they play when they join one of our schools. This short booklet aims to set out what those expectations are and what it means for each member of staff.
As the quotation from the Vatican document above indicates, Catholic schools are faith communities, based on a belief in God and on a Christian way of life. They were originally built to serve the poor and disadvantaged and this is still a major part of our work. In our Xavier schools we have staff with a wide variety of beliefs. We have very committed and not so committed Catholics, people of different faiths, agnostics and atheists. Absolutely everyone is welcome to work in our schools but there is a strong expectation that we act in a certain way and understand that we are all here to serve the children, this is a non-negotiable.
To be a great Catholic school we must first be a great school and recognise that academic standards are central to the Catholic nature of the schools which form part of the Xavier MAT. We must also ensure the children have all the skills knowledge and attributes to live and work in a global post covid society. We also provide children with opportunities to grow in their faith so they leave us closer to God and make a meaningful contribution to ensuring that society is a better place by living a good Christian life.
We are named after St Frances Xavier who was a missionary and travelled the world persuading people to become Christians. He lived amongst the poor and spent his life serving his local communities and building the Catholic Church. In the context of Catholic education St Francis Xavier is especially significant because he was a founding member of an order of priests (Jesuits) who are responsible for a huge number of Catholic schools across the world. The Jesuits introduced mentoring and training programmes for teachers 400 years before they became commonplace. We use St Francis Xavier as our role model in school as we are always guided by whatever is best for the children, one of the founding principles of St Francis Xavier’s order.
“Our mission is to provide an outstanding Catholic education for all the children in our schools. We will follow the example and teachings of Christ and everything we do will be inspired by gospel values. We will strive for excellence in all areas of our work and cherish every child in our care.” Our gospel values are
So what does this look like for us on a daily basis?
Love - we believe every child is good and made in the image of Christ. Our job is to love each of them whatever challenges they provide through genuine care and concern and to treat everyone in our community as we would like to be treated, particularly the less fortunate. In the words of St John Bosco “Young people not only need to be loved, they need to know that they are loved.”
Faith - sometimes we are called to “take the first step even when we can’t see the whole staircase”. Showing faith means that we trust that God is there and will look after us.
Gratitude - we all have so much to be thankful for. The day always feels better if we take a moment to pause and thank God for the family, friends and good things we have. “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Humility - we are not boastful and are open enough to recognise our own weaknesses and look for help from others
Humour - God and the children constantly invite us to rejoice and laugh, sometimes at ourselves! This is contagious as God wants us all to be happy. . This helps us to develop personal connection with the children, particularly the hardest to reach.
Integrity - as a member of the Xavier community this means we always try to “do the right thing even when no-one is looking”.
Justice - children are finely-tuned judges of what is right (“That’s not fair!!”). We show justice by fair and consistent actions to everyone, regardless of who they are.
Peace –in our schools, we work to create a peaceful and calm atmosphere where children can thrive through a sense of inclusion and without conflict. We show our children how to build and keep healthy and harmonious relationships
Prayer - is a conversation with God. In Catholic schools this is a daily part of our lives and we all take part in Assemblies and worship. We offer up our hearts and minds to God who knows and loves us tenderly.
Reconciliation - when a child does something wrong we take appropriate action then forgive, draw a line and start again afresh on friendly terms. We put things right and get everyone back on track, however often we need to.
Respect - this means we treat every child with dignity and value and always speak to them with kindness. As staff, we never humiliate or chastise a child in public or say negative things about them. Praise, encouragement and appropriate apologies all create an atmosphere of respect for the rights of each person.
Service - we are here to serve the children and each other and do whatever it takes to ensure we provide the best possible education for them.
Tolerance - we promote openness and respect of everyone by demonstrating empathy and compassion through our words and our actions.
Thank you for everything you do for our children. As Maya Angelou said, “children will forget what you said, children will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.