Loreto College was established in St Albans nearly 100 years ago to help young people live out the values of Mary Ward. The school’s founders were determined that its pupils would be guided by the principles of Truth, Justice, Sincerity, Freedom and Joy. They introduced a curriculum which encouraged everyone to grow as individuals whilst remaining respectful of one another, the authority of the Church, the rule of democracy, and the rule of law. To this day, these ideals continue to shape our work at Loreto.
We prepare our students for adult life in Britain’s multi-faith society. They are reminded about how to distinguish right from wrong, we help them to understand and respect the basis upon which law is made and applied in Britain, and we also help them to value our parliamentary democracy and the freedoms we all enjoy.
We promote democracy in many ways, but foremost amongst these is our School Council. Every form throughout the school is represented on this, with new representatives elected onto the Council annually. These reps discuss issues of importance to the student body, canvass the opinions of peers and staff, fundraise for the school, and make decisions using a democratic process. The Head Girl and Deputies chair these meetings.
Local Councillors are also invited to discuss the British election process and their roles within our democracy. Hertfordshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner recently visited Loreto College, and gave a very informative presentation to the School Council:
As well as standing for a place on the School Council, our students can also put themselves forward as representatives showing leadership in a variety of other capacities, such as form prefects, sports reps, register monitors etc. Every Spring, voting takes place for Head Girl, Deputies, Sports Captain and Senior Prefects. In the Summer term Subject Prefects are appointed. Upper school students and Sixth formers are fully involved in various leadership roles throughout the school, helping to develop an understanding of the rights and responsibilities that go along with Leadership.
As well as encouraging our pupils to respect leaders, we also encourage them to respect people of all backgrounds. Our strong Christian ethos reinforces the expectation that since Catholics are all members of a multi-faith society, we should always be respectful of the beliefs and ideas of others. During their time at Loreto students visit a Mosque, Synagogue and a Sikh Temple, as well as a variety of Christian Places of Worship. In RE lessons, students are taught the importance of having faith in God; they explore many religions and learn to understand their own identity and recognise that there are many different beliefs held by members of a community.
In their History lessons pupils learn about the British Constitution, studying the Magna Carta and other aspects of democracy and government. They also explore multiculturalism, Islamic Society, the Crusades, Anti- Semitism and The Holocaust, as well as the roles played by British men and women during the First and Second World Wars.
In their Classics lessons students consider human rights, gender, equality, family values and how to make wise decisions. Britain’s place in the European Union is taught in Modern Foreign Language lessons.
In assemblies we follow the liturgical calendar and use the Gospel Readings to teach respect and love to all. Some examples are:
- September - what it means to be a Christian and live in a Christian Community;
- October - praying for Racial Justice and Peace in the World;
- November - remembrance of those who fought for the Freedom of Britain;
- May - recognising the importance of interfaith relationships;
- June - the inspiration of St Alban and others who have fought against religious oppression.
All Year Groups attend an annual retreat where the theme of respect and love for fellow human beings is reinforced. Students are taught the importance of individuality, diversity and equality in their lives, in British Society and around the world.
Every few weeks we suspend our timetable in order to focus on PSHE issues (click here for an explanation of this). Students explore their roles and responsibilities as citizens in the local and global community, and they learn how to make a valuable contribution to society.
During Lent, each Year Group selects a different charity and then devote their efforts to raising as much money as possible for this worthy cause. The charities range from a local Hospice, to supporting Loreto Missions such as those in Calcutta and Albania, to global charities such as organisations committed to combatting cancer. In addition to this, students and staff recently raised £3,700 this year to support The Sunshine School, a charity that seeks to educate impoverished children in Vietnam.
Each year, the school has a themed week designed to promote the values of Mary Ward and to provide opportunities for cross-curricular work. In the past we have had themed weeks on issues as diverse as China, Water and Joy. In 2015 our focus on Freedom saw us offering a range of activities across all departments that helped students to understand the nature of a free society, the importance of democracy, and our right to vote for a government of our choice. Students explored the privileges that freedom brings, and considered how a lack of freedom impacts on communities past and present.
Our careers guidance programme helps students to explore a wide range of career opportunities, including those in the NHS, Police, the Military Forces and the Civil Service. Therefore, we often invite representatives from these careers into school to talk with our students.
We believe that all of the above activities, and the many others which we have not been able to mention here, promote key British Values. Our work ensures that we:
- enable pupils to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence;
- enable pupils to distinguish right from wrong and to respect the civil and criminal law of England;
- encourage pupils to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative and understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of those living and working in the locality in which the school is situated and to society more widely;
- enable pupils to acquire a broad general knowledge of and respect for public institutions and services in England;
- further tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions by enabling pupils to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures;
- encourage respect for other people;
- encourage respect for democracy and support for participation in the democratic process, including respect for the basis on which the law is made and applied in England.
We are proud of the way our students live out the British values which are so central to our Loreto ethos.