St. Declan's School was founded in 1958 by the Irish Jesuits for children who, for personal or emotional reasons, achieve below their potential in their local schools. We strive to create a supportive environment for the boys and girls in our care.
The visionary aims of the original mission statement of the St. Declan's Association, constituted in 1959, are still relevant today. These aims included:
- helping children overcome their particular difficulties as quickly as possible so as to enable a speedy return to mainstream schools
- teaching children at various levels within the same classroom, according to their individual abilities and needs
- providing children with additional individual help where necessary
In St. Declan's a common spirit lies behind teaching and learning in the life of the school. This common spirit or 'ethos' described here is for the whole school community - the board of management, the teachers, the secretary, the children and their parents.
Three qualities of this common spirit to which the St. Declan's community aspires are:
~ Head Developing competence in communication and social skills, learning to deal with situations in a calm and respectful manner. We learn to use our head and think of better ways to deal with others.
~ Heart A formed conscience that knows what is good and true and moves us to act in accordance to the rights of others. We work with the children to become large-hearted, being able to forgive and let things go; to try and be whole-hearted, doing our best with the talents we have and to speak from the heart avoiding be ruled by passion or anger
~ Hand Generous hands that put our talents and gifts at the service of others. Compassionate hands that tend to those who, in their need, have the greatest claim on us.
Children and teachers are regularly involved in projects that express this characteristic spirit [click on the links below]
The Head Heart Hand Write a Book Project
Class Charters based on the St. Declan's Code
Ceramic Wall Mural (50th Anniversary 2008)
Charity fundraising events for SVdP and Trócaire, Philippine hurricane, Nepal earthquake, etc
The characteristic spirit through which we try to relate has 5 key principles which is called the St. Declans Code. These are:
Being Respectful: using nice manners, being kind and caring, working quietly, using appropriate language, following teachers directions, being helpful, listening, waiting your turn to speak...
Being Responsible: taking care of property, doing homework, arriving on time, having the things you need, following class and school rules, making appropriate judgements about what should be at school, eating a healthy and nutritious lunch, putting litter in the bin...
Being Safe: acting in a considerate, safe manner, playing safely, being careful not to be rough or harm others in any way....
Being Honest: telling the truth even when it's tough, 'owning up' when you're in the wrong. Telling when you see someone being hurt deliberately..
Being the Best you can be: Having a positive attitude, always trying to do your best - even when it's not your favourite thing to do.
Each class learns about the St. Declan's Code and creates their own age-appropriate Classroom Charter which helps the children take ownership of the code. More recently (2014) a student council has been set up with the support of Special Needs Assistants which gives the children more responsibility in the life of the school.
The common spirit or ethos that lies behind education and learning at St. Declan's is based on The Characteristics of Jesuit Education (1987). While these characteristics have an obvious religious dimension grounded in the Catholic Faith, St. Declan's welcomes and accommodates children and families of all faiths and none - children from the Muslim, Jewish, Bahi and other Christian traditions have all attended as well as children who do not adhere to any faith or religion. What follows is a brief summary and how aspects of these characteristics relate to the life of the school community:
Finding God in All things - Recognising a power greater than ourselves and who is the source of the common spirit that animates our work. Often in the healing process, it is said, the first step is to realise that we need help, and this help can come from the common spirit that we try to generate amongst us.
Caring for the individual - In St. Declan's we emphasise the care of the individual and concern for each person. While this has particular challenges and demands, we recognise that time spent one-to-one, working through troubles and anxieties, can benefit the children in our care.
Growing towards freedom and responsibility - Our goal is to go beyond thinking just of ourselves recognising that, while we have rights, we also have responsibilities. Through the St. Declan's Code, the student council and activities such as Friendship Week, we grow in knowledge, love and acceptance of ourselves in community with others.
Christ is the model for Human Life - This is reflected in the practice of praying together and developing Christian meditation and moments of quiet reflection. [see http://www.cominghome.org.au/] We celebrate the sacraments as part of school's yearly rhythm.
A faith that expresses itself in love for others - Our goal is the children will return to their mainstream school with more resilience and with the maturity to 'show love in deeds' (Ignatius Loyola)
In the service of the church - St. Declan's School follows the Alive-O religion programme which develops an understanding of the Catholic Faith. Concern is also shown for the spiritual and religious development of children of other faiths or none.
Striving for excellence - The Jesuit motto is Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam (A.M.D.G.). We encourage everyone in the school community to develop their talents and develop their gifts in a spirit of 'What more can I give?'.
Working as a community - Our ethos embraces the pupils, teachers, the board of management and members of the wider staff, but also, parents, past pupils and others who support our work in the school.
Openness to growth - Our school motto emphasises our wish to nurture each person's potential to adapted flexibly and positively to the demands of new circumstance and challenges and to foster independence.
Aspects of our ethos are encapsulated in the St. Declan's Code. Core rights accorded to all members of the school community include: the right to feel safe; the right of children to learn (without undue distraction or disruption) and the right to respect and fair treatment. These rights entail responsibilities by all: children, parents, teaching and support staff. It is agreed that a high standard of behaviour requires a strong sense of community within the school and a high level of co-operation among staff and between staff, pupils and parents.