Main School

A Community of Faith

In the book of Genesis, it says that God created mankind in his own image. (Gen 1:27) This bestows on human beings a very special status, what the Church calls the particular dignity and destiny of each human being. We are made for God and are open to the transcendent. In other words, we have an inner sense of the divine which we might experience in nature, in art, in a loving relationship, or in periods of deep reflection. This belief is fundamental to Catholic schools and informs our anthropology, our understanding of the person. We do not believe that human beings are random and that nature is some magnificent freak of evolution. All human beings have a divine seed within them, they are loved by God, and that belief informs how we go about the business of education.

Many traditions of course believe in a creator God but as Catholic Christian schools we believe that God revealed himself in Jesus of Nazareth, who was true God and true man. In Jesus, we see the human face of God, the revelation of the nature of the Father. And it is good news. Jesus reveals a God who is compassionate, forgiving and gentle, whose very nature is love and who urges us to live in love and to build up a kingdom of love. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is central to the Catholic school. What the Catholic school offers is a Christian vision of reality, a set of values based on the loving, caring, challenging mission of Jesus. In a society where many seem to lose their way through lack of values or in the pursuit of endless pleasure and material gain, this is a counter-cultural message of hope.

So do all pupils in Catholic schools have to be Catholic, or will the staff try and convert them so they believe this message? No. The Church is very clear about the purpose of its schools. If a young person is Christian then they will be supported in their formation to mature in the faith through the school’s chaplaincy, retreat programmes and accompaniment. However, in the Declaration on Christian Education, which was published in 1965, the Church makes it very clear that there are different types of Catholic schools, including those with pupils who are not Catholic or have no knowledge of the faith. These pupils are very welcome in our schools. It is expected that they and their families will be supportive of the Catholic ethos of the school.  Religious education will cover other religions as well as Catholicism and will focus on transmitting knowledge and understanding of religion in a spirit of age-appropriate critical thinking, and will not impart a one-sided outlook.

A school which believes the above will have a particular atmosphere and way of doing things. What strikes many people about Catholic schools is the quality of pastoral care. This care is extended to all, but especially to the most vulnerable and fragile. A phrase you often here in Catholic schools is it’s like a family here which is what any parent would want for their child: to be educated in a place where the feel valued and belong. In such an environment they can flourish. It is of course a Catholic community and the sacraments and services of the Catholic Church will be central to the school’s calendar.

What kind of education is offered at Catholic schools? The day to day curriculum will look very much like any other school, with preparation for public exams and a full range of subjects on offer. What characterises a Catholic school is a commitment to the formation of the whole person. So academic standards are important as part of a rounded education. Catholic schools are not exam factories but more like gardens where young people’s physical, moral and intellectual development is tended to with care and diligence. Pupils in Catholic schools are invited to develop a moral compass, a set of values based on the Gospel to guide their future lives. The purpose of an education in a Catholic school is not just to ensure future economic success, but to encourage our pupils to serve the common good of society.

Finally, Catholic schools develop discernment and critical thinking. Knowledge has to be gained to pass exams but a commitment to the formation of the whole person requires deep learning and growth in wisdom. The purpose of this growth is not self-serving but for the good of others. The Catholic school is part of the mission of the Church to build up the kingdom of God, to make society more just, to create a civilization of love. Our pupils will leave us to take their place in society and in some cases they will be the leaders and policy-makers of the future. Whether their adult lives are private or public, we want them to live that life to the full and to help create a better world, one which is more in tune with the values of Jesus Christ.

Every year we ask a cross-section of students what matters to them. What are their concerns and interests and how we can adjust what we do as a school to reflect this.

“What Matters to Me?” Survey Results 2022


Surveys Completed: 271
BHF Students: 950
271/950 = 28.5% of student body

What concerns me in the wider world today?

The most common response this year was war, a drastic increase from the 12% of respondents who were concerned about it in 2019. This is most likely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an alarming conflict surely on the mind of concerned students. Children are well aware of the greater issues affecting the world, and it is important to take this into account when addressing the issue. This reminds us that, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, schools need to provide students with the ability to discuss global issues  and the space to share their worries.

What concerns me locally today?

Poverty (specifically homelessness and housing) was the most frequent response, consistent with both the 2018 and 2019 reports. Students at Blessed Hugh are aware of the issues within their communities and are especially concerned for the more vulnerable members of the population. A lack of services for young people saw an increase in responses from 2019, highlighting the need to inform students of the services available to them. This will be fed back to the Local Authority as well as looking at how our co-curricular offer can be strengthened. 

What is it that makes these things wrong/unjust?

Options (Ranked by frequency):

  1. Things are wrong if they cause bad outcomes
  2. Some things are just wrong in themselves
  3. The most important way we decide if something is good or bad is by rights
  4. Right and wrong is based on deeply held beliefs 

The debate on whether something can be right or wrong in itself or only if it leads to good or bad outcomes is an historic debate. In RE and PSHE this discussion will be continued.

How important is forgiveness in life?

Options (Ranked by frequency)

  1. Very
  2. Quite
  3. Not at all 

Students found forgiveness to be important, but similar to 2019, “Quite” received nearly as many responses as “Very.” As a Catholic institution, it is crucial to establish the value of forgiveness at a young age, both through teaching it and modelling it.

As a Catholic school, Blessed Hugh works closely with local churches and religious groups.  How do you think churches and places of worship can be more relevant to young people?

Whereas in previous years this was a multiple choice question, this year was open-ended. This allowed for a wider range of responses, yet there was one highly frequent answer: offering engaging and informative activities and trips to young people.

  • Creating a fun environment where children feel welcome is key to maintaining engagement. -Too often, youth are overwhelmed by the church and don’t recognise the beauty of it, choosing to be reserved rather than fully participating.
  • Students also expressed the desire to have conversations around relevant and controversial world issues in relation to the church. 

What is most important to you?

The most common answers include

  • love of family, praying, and love of friends.
  • Relationships, including with God, are evidently essential to Blessed Hugh students.
  • Being courageous also received many responses, a large increase from 1% in 2019. 

Again, the need for security, to be recognised and valued are all very important.

What do you think might be different about attending a Catholic school like Blessed Hugh as against a school that does not have a religious foundation?

Again, this was an open response question as opposed to previous years.

  • Learning more about Jesus and the church was the obvious and frequent answer, but many commented on how they learned about religious values such as respect and acceptance. This is a key part of Catholic Social Teaching, and it is essential to continue to establish these values in schools. 

What do you see as the importance of celebrating Mass together at Blessed Hugh?

Many stressed the community aspect of Mass, mentioning how it celebrates sharing the same beliefs and coming together as one school. Some also noted they wouldn’t be able to attend Mass otherwise. Notably, there were quite a few responses that said “nothing.” This reminds us of the need to explain the place of organised worship as central to the school experience.

Thinking of you and your friends and choosing up to three things, what are the things that worry or concern you in the world around you? 

Many different aspects of mental health were addressed, displaying this generation’s greater awareness of prevalent mental issues. Blessed Hugh Faringdon has a thoughtful and effective mental health board already in place, but it is necessary to continue to highlight available resources and teach about it. Other answers were highly similar to previous questions about local and global concerns, including homelessness and discrimination. There were a few that responded with sexual assault, a pressing issue that needs to be taught and addressed in schools in a mindful manner. 

Looking at the following qualities put them in order of importance with the most important given 15 and the least important:

The most important qualities were:

  • compassion (kindness towards others),
  • being a person of faith, and
  • showing love.

All of these are highly praised in Blessed Hugh, fulfilling their devotion to Catholic values. 

When you have a difficult situation - and I know it might depend on what the situation is- who do you typically turn to first?

Family was the most frequent option, followed by friends. Students continue to turn to those closest to them when they need help. When they don’t feel they have anybody to talk to, the school must be available for support.

What could Blessed Hugh do better to support you?

Common answers included:

  • Shorter lunch lines
  • More help with lessons
  • Better access to support
  • Check ins on home life
  • Advice about future jobs
  • Cheaper meals

As indicated by the survey, student feedback is crucial to improving the school.

Looking to your future career or jobs put the following in order of importance: 

Wage/salary was the most important, followed by job satisfaction. Students are mindful of their financial necessities as well as their overall happiness. Three years ago, job satisfaction scored more highly, possibly reflecting how economic realities are to the fore in children’s minds.