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.