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RE and Catholic Life

Catholic Life Newsletter for parents   

St Patrick's Day parade

St Edward the Confessor is our very own school's patron saint

All about St Edward the Confessor

Edward ruled England from 1042 until his death in 1066. He lived a life renowned for generosity and piety and was considered a gentle and devoted ruler. He was canonized in 1161 and became known as Edward the Confessor. A confessor is a saint who did not die a martyr’s death but whose life proclaimed their faith. St. Edward’s feast day is October 13th.

Edward was born in Islip, Oxfordshire about 1003 and died January 5th, 1066. He was the son of the Saxon King Ethelred II “the Unready” and his second wife Emma, the daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy. Ethelred held his throne by the sword, levying heavy taxes (Dangeld) on the people in the hope of bribing the Vikings to leave England in peace.  Ethelred’s marriage to Emma was political, seeking the support of the Normans against the Danish raids.

Edward spent his early years in relative peace at Ely Abbey, one of the richest and most influential abbeys of the time. However in 1013 Sweyn, the king of Denmark, seized the English throne and Ethelred and his family fled into exile. Edward and his brother Alfred were taken to the court of his uncle, Duke Richard II of Normandy, where they were able to grow up in safety. Edward was to spend almost half his life in Normandy and it was to have a huge influence on him. It was here that he made a vow of chastity, served at Masses and developed the reputation of having a saintly character.

Ethelred regained his throne temporarily but died in 1016. Edmund Ironside, Edward’s older stepbrother inherited the kingdom but was soon defeated by the Dane Canute. Emma married Canute and had a son, Hardicanute, who became heir to the English throne. However, when Canute died in 1035 it was his illegitimate son Harold Harefoot who took advantage of Hardicanute’s absence in Denmark and seized power. In 1036 Edward and his brother Alfred tried to seize the throne. Alfred was killed and Edward forced to escape back to Normandy. In 1041, following the death of Harold Harefoot, Hardicanute became king. However he died in 1042, leaving no heir.

Edward had the strongest claim to the throne and his religious reputation made him acceptable to both Saxon and Danish settlers in England. After many decades of fighting in England, Edward’s reign was to be one of almost unbroken peace. He managed the country well, ending the Danegeld and living within the income of his royal estates instead of drawing taxes. He was known to listen to complaints and dispense justice fairly. He even began the royal custom of laying hands on people to cure them of scrofula “the king’s evil”. This tradition carried on for nearly 700 years. However the Norman influence on his life made his Saxon subjects uneasy. Eventually Edward agreed to a political marriage with Edith, daughter of Earl Godwin of Wessex, as long as she accepted that he kept his vow of chastity. Godwin was highly ambitious, at one point his rebellion against Edward led to exile for his whole family, including Edith. Eventually however, to maintain stability in the country, Edward was forced to reinstate them.

While in Normandy Edward had vowed to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb in Rome if he regained his kingdom. However, leaving England for that length of time would have destabilised the country, the Pope therefore requested that Edward build a new abbey to St. Peter. Edward rebuilt and enlarged the Saxon abbey in Westminster. “Westminster Abbey” was dedicated just a week before Edward’s death. Edward’s death left England in turmoil. His vow of chastity meant that he died without an obvious heir. The Saxon people rejected his promise of the throne to the Duke of Normandy. Three contenders to the kingdom emerged – Edward’s brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson; the Viking king, Harold Hardrede; and William, Duke of Normandy. Hardrede was defeated by Godwinson at Stamford Bridge. Godwinson died at the Battle of Hastings, leaving William “the Conqueror” to succeed and start the Norman era.

Edward’s reputation for healing the sick continued after his death and in 1161 he was canonized. In 1163 a shrine to Edward the Confessor was created in Westminster Abbey.

Every half term we concentrate on two of these Gospel Virtues from our tag cloud. The Gospel Virtues we are exploring for this half term are:

Attentive and Discerning

Pupil Profile - The Jesuit Institute 1

Gospel Virtues at St Edward's

Religious Education (RE) is a core subject at our school and as such has a very high profile; we aim to give children a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith. We give the religious, spiritual and moral education of our children the highest priority. RE lessons are taught using the scheme of work for Religious Education produced by the Birmingham Diocesan Education Service, ‘Learning and Growing as the People of God’, from Reception to Year 6. This is based on the Catholic School Pupil Profile Gospel Virtues and the teachings of the Catholic Church. 


The Catholic mission of our school permeates all areas of the curriculum. We recognise that every child is unique and created in the image of God. It is our aim to develop the whole child; to help them to grow in faith, and to develop as global citizens with a maturing Christian awareness. Our Catholic curriculum teaches the children to be honest, respectful, attentive, compassionate, generous, caring and wise.


Children are prepared for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation during Key Stage 2. This is in a three-way partnership between the school, the Parish and home.


Mass is normally celebrated weekly, currently streamed via the webcam, with children from Reception to Year 6 partaking. On Saints Feast Days, Holy Days of Obligation and Ash Wednesday, we usually celebrate Mass at Church. Classes take turns to prepare and lead each Mass. Families are always welcome to join us in the celebration of Mass, whether at school or at Church.


Prayers are said regularly throughout the day, during assemblies, class worship and during RE lessons.  Children learn prayers that are said collectively and have many opportunities to say and write prayers in their own words. They also have silent reflection time for their own thoughts and prayers.  Children are  encouraged to write Bidding Prayers for their class Mass.


Intent, Implementation and Impact of RE




It is our duty to see our mission and vision embedded across the RE curriculum, and the whole wider curriculum beyond. This sits alongside the Gospel Virtues which are inextricably linked through everything we teach. The Religious Education within the school promotes awe, wonder, reverence and spirituality within every child. As children are taught about God’s love they discover their Christian responsibilities and how they should pray and care for others.



It is also our intention that pupils will enjoy their RE lessons. Lessons should not be seen as a way of promoting the Catholic faith exclusively; all faiths are celebrate. RE should not be something in which they are purely 'taught' lessons should be faith-filled, enjoyable lessons where each child feels they belong to our school community and not excluded because they are not Catholic. Lessons should be opportunities where everyone is respected for their beliefs and expressions of faith, but where ultimately, they all achieve. We aim to equip children with the knowledge and skills to answer challenging questions, explore beliefs, values and traditions in the Catholic faith and other faiths.




We are a Catholic school, and proud of that fact. The Catholicity of the school underpins what we do every day. This also directs us, with the help of God and the Archdiocese, to implement an RE curriculum whereby the Catholic faith permeates everything we do. We ensure that families are supported in bringing their children up in the Catholic faith and we provide a well-rounded Catholic education. For RE we follow the Archdiocese's 'Learning and Growing as the People of God' books as a scaffold for planning and coverage. High quality teaching responds to the needs of children and spiral learning is a key focus of all formative and summative assessment with teachers actively marking work in lessons in order to identify misconceptions early. Children will be highly engaged in RE lessons through the use of a variety of sources such as religious stories, scripture, religious artwork, songs, music, dance and religious signs and symbols. The life and work of key figures in the History of the people of God will be studied for example, lives of the saints. Approaches will include whole class teaching, group activities and individual work. Children will have opportunities to work individually as well as cooperatively and collaboratively, developing their own knowledge and expertise as well as sharing experiences with others.


Opportunities will be provided for children of all ages to experience learning beyond the classroom.  This will allow them to enrich their knowledge by, for example, visiting different places of worship, local parish church, St Chad’s Cathedral, Alton Castle etc.





We receive support from the Archdiocese as well as other schools in the local area; we also work with closely with Bishop Challoner Catholic College. Through moderation of planning, lessons and books, we can be sure that progress is made across all year groups. If progress is not being made, support is immediate and steps provided to ensure all pupils achieve their full potential.

Evidence of impact in RE is not just collated through books. All of our pupils contribute to collective worship and Catholic Life.

The children at St. Edward’s will live their faith in an active and positive way, always aware of the presence and love of Christ guiding them this will develop their relationship with God and enable them to become religiously literate. Through religious practice, the church’s traditions of prayer and worship will be upheld and faith will play a central role in the lives of the children and the decisions they make.

Children will be confident, resilient and actively engaged in the wider society. They will be able to define, describe and discuss areas of RE and will confidently use skills such as retelling, describing, comparing, giving reasons, explaining the meaning of biblical stories and considering the impact of beliefs. Children will be able to reflect and consider important questions about RE aswell as asking questions of their own.

Our school environment will reflect and celebrate our Catholic faith. We hope that this embeds the foundations for them to continue their faith as adults and that they can then carry onto others for generations to come.


St. Edward’s Catholic Primary School

“Jesus is at the heart of all that we do”

The life and soul of St Edward’s is based on the example given to us by Jesus Christ. The caring, understanding, love and support for each other is present in all that we do and all that we strive to do.

Every child and every adult at St Edward’s is as important as the next. By working together we are all able to help each other and produce the best environment possible for each child's learning experiences to be as successful as possible. Our main concern is to make the school, in every sense a Christian community where all parents, pupils and staff are working together for the good of each other.

St. Edward’s School is a learning community with a Catholic ethos founded on Gospel values. Through religious education, our prayer life and the general life of the school, our young people will be prepared to serve as witnesses to moral and spiritual values in the wider world:

  • Children and adults are seen as made in God’s image;
  • Everyone in the school is encouraged to fulfil their unique role in creation;
  • We recognise, develop and value every person – celebrating and encouraging their individual talents;
  • Success is celebrated and is a frequent experience;
  • In partnership with home and parish, we prepare our children for their lives as good citizens in the world community;


Non-Eucharistic liturgies are prepared by pupils from Year 2 to Year 6.

The Head Teacher leads weekly Gospel assemblies to promote the spiritual and moral development of pupils and staff. All class assemblies have a strong religious focus and are shared with parents as well as the school community. The school is supported by our Parish Priest, Fr Denis McGillycuddy.







Sacramental Preparation

Children have the opportunity to receive three sacraments during their time at St. Edward’s Catholic Primary School.

The preparation for each sacrament takes place during religious education lessons and there are also meetings between school, parents and the parish priest.

At St. Edward’s we follow ‘Learning and Growing as the people of God’’ scheme of work which helps the children to prepare to receive the Sacraments. We also have a special book: ‘I belong’ which help us to keep a record of our preparations.

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Jesus Christ, in His abundant love and mercy, established the Sacrament of Confession, so that we as sinners can obtain forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with God and the Church. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Christ.

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).

After a period of preparation our Year 3 children receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Spring term, before Easter.

The children learn the Act of Contrition:

O my God, because you are so good,

I am very sorry that I have sinned against you,

And by the help of your grace, I will try not to sin again.


First Holy Communion

Once the children in Year 3 have made the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they receive the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. This usually takes place on a Sunday during May. The children work very hard at home, in school and in the parish to ensure that they are fully prepared to receive Jesus into their hearts.

The children study all of the parts of the Mass in detail over the year but focus particularly on the Liturgy of the Eucharist leading up to the celebration of First Holy Communion. By exploring each of the parts of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in detail, the children learn that the Mass is a celebration of thanksgiving and that during the Eucharistic prayer, the priest asks the Holy Spirit to change the gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.


Alongside their lessons in school, the children attend Mass with their families each week and pray at home as a family. The children are encouraged to read Bible stories together and discuss their Religious Education lessons. The children are given various tasks to complete at home linked to their First Holy Communion.


Confirmation is one of the Holy Sacraments. It is a process that begins at Baptism. Through this sacrament, Christians are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to use and develop their gifts to love and serve God and others in our everyday lives.

Confirmation is celebrated at a special ceremony in our church, officiated by the Bishop and our Parish Priest. During the Confirmation ceremony, the Bishop annoints the sacred oil of chrism on the forehead of each nominee. With the laying of the hands, the candidates are then invited to go out into the world, just as the Apostles did, with the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

When preparing for the sacrament, students reflect on the fruits of the Holy Spirit by investigating the lives of saints and people in the community. Then, at Confirmation, they accept the challenge and responsibility of nurturing God’s gifts to the world.

Prayers the children will be learning


Our school house saints are named after the Gospel writers whose work all those years ago has provided us with the wonderful scripture that now informs us of the works, teachings and events in the time of Jesus in the New Testament.


We all belong to a house saint and have the opportunity to earn house points which will then be collated each week. We celebrate the house which has earned the most house points collectively across the school. The trophy is displayed in our entrance hall with a coloured ribbon that denotes which house is the winner for the week!


We have special house captains who have the job of representing their house at Praise assembly.


This year each house has a chance to have a house meeting with their staff head of house and to dress up in their special saint's house colour. This year as we cannot celebrate in the usual way we are having competitions and asking the children to research their house Saint and get creative in producing what they have found out.


Our House Days are as follows:


St Matthew (yellow) 21st September

St Luke (green) 18th October

St John (blue) 27th Dec-celebrated on our first week back to school

St Mark (red) 25th April

Praise Assembly and Ralph

Every Friday, we have our Praise Assembly.  Children are selected by their class teacher for many reasons from being a good role model with behaviour, working hard in all tasks and living like Jesus. The children who are selected- sit at the front of their class and are awarded a certificate and sticker. Not only do they get a certificate, but they get to enjoy Tea with Mrs K, Ralph and Millie in the Staffroom.