Building the Kingdom
At Holy Family, we are very proud to be a part of the Building the Kingdom programme, the aim of which is to embed distinctive Catholic curriculum design for the transformation of society.
Through Building the Kingdom, we explore the big questions of purpose and meaning that arise throughout the Liturgical year, and then create lessons and events which engage students with the skills needed to be agents for a Spirit-fuelled transformation of society. Children at Holy Family are being formed to be the 'leaders of tomorrow' and they will leave here with a greater sense that they can make a difference, as highlighted in our September 2022 OFSTED report which says 'The curriculum helps pupils become well-rounded young people who have the skills to make a difference to the world as they grow older. They have a strong awareness of equality, respect for others and their stewardship of the world.'
We have worked with Sister Judith Russi SSMN and the Educarem team to consider approaches that will promote critical and higher order thinking skills across the curriculum. We have developed a wide range of creative strategies to develop our children's skills to be advocates for change for those in the greatest need in society.
We work with other schools who are a part of the programme and share our practice at different events, sharing ideas and forming a professional network.
We are now on Level 3 which is aimed at developing the gift that each child possesses for the transformation of society. This is at a deeper level than we looked at with Level 1 and Level 2 which helped contextualise our learning and our curriculum in line with the mission of a Catholic school.
As part of our ‘Building the Kingdom’ curriculum design, children will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding by asking ‘big questions’.
For example, when Reception look at the topic ‘Me and My World’ in history, they will consider the question: ‘How can our small hands have huge impacts?’ and when Year One study the history of toys, they will consider: ‘Can my toys save the world?’ and think about the environmental damage that plastic pollution etc. is causing. Moving up through the school, these questions will continue to be asked, for example Year Six look at topics such as the fairness of global trade and Year Four consider if invasion is ever acceptable when looking at the Romans.
On top of this, we look at different inspirational figures across the year and learn about the difference these people have made. In our different themed weeks, we look at a range of inspirational figures such as St Oscar Romero, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Greta Thunberg and many more. All of these people have stood up for social justice and our aim is to inspire our children to do the same and know that they can make a difference.
For more information, please visit: https://educarem.org.uk/building-the-kingdom/
A Foundation Governor’s overview of how the Building the Kingdom programme can enhance a child’s learning experience and transform a school.
How can our school differentiate itself from any other excellent school? How can we make the learning experience at Holy Family extra special for both the children and its staff? How can we enrich the lives of our children, not just for today, but for the rest of their lives? How can our children delve deeper into their learning and ask more searching questions? Can the children relate their faith to their daily lives?
For the last four years, Holy Family has embraced the “Building the Kingdom”, a programme based on Catholic social teaching. This new approach has enriched the curriculum, has complimented the existing RE scheme of work and is providing the best possible Catholic education for our children.
The scheme delivers three levels of learning and Holy Family is currently working within level three.
Building the Kingdom has given the children ownership of their faith. It enables the children to be stewards of the earth and activists of faith. Every child in our school knows that they are empowered to make a difference not only to their own lives but to the lives of others locally, nationally and internationally.
The scheme follows the Liturgical year and gives teachers an opportunity to adapt lesson in a variety of subjects to reflect the seasons of the church as well as traditional Feast Days.
Holy Family Celebrates Our Lady’s Birthday month.
One of the initial projects that both Key Stages worked on was a tribute to Our Lady’s birthday in September.
Each year group looked at Mary from a different perspective, for example, Mary as a mother and Mary as a refugee in Egypt. The early years thought carefully about their families. The children took time to appreciate what their mother figures do for them. They drew hearts for the women in their lives, thanking them. Year Four undertook a project about Mary as a refugee. The children researched modern day refugees incorporating geography, history and RE. Everyone has learned so much about Our Lady’s unconditional love for God and about her many life challenges. Every child wants to be more like Mary.
Holy Family children are proud to be “Activists in Faith”
The children quickly became activists in their faith by following the example of various inspirational peers. Key Stage Two children looked at modern day activists who have made a big difference to our world. The children researched Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg. Social justice is now a buzz word around Holy Family School. The upper school continues to focus on advocacy and leadership. The children have the opportunity to respect the traditions and beliefs of other faiths.
Year Six learned a lot from their Kingdom of God project which focussed on how they can show the qualities Jesus taught us. The class studied Harriet Tubman who was born into slavery and escaped. She made 13 rescue missions and rescued 700 enslaved people.
Also, the children are dedicated “Stewards of the Earth”
I wonder how Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil felt when 30 letters written by the children in Year 5 arrived for him to tell him how strongly the children felt about the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest? What an interesting way of learning about Catholic Social Teaching and Pope Francis’ Laudato Si (care for our common home). Year 6 have held debates with deeper thinking and are able to articulate themselves in a confident, mature manner.
Key Stage One shared a session based on “Bye-bye plastic bags” the children were inspired by sisters Melati and Isabel from Indonesia who campaigned against single use plastic bags. The children drew beautiful pictures of underwater creatures with a no plastic message.
Another early year's project was to “protect the bubble that the Earth is in” for example by walking instead of driving.
Advent at Holy Family - Everyone gets involved – a prophet from over 2000 years ago comes to visit and a modern day Welsh shepherd Zooms in.
During Advent, one of the teachers role-played the part of John the Baptist. In character, the children were invited to ask him questions. At the end of the session, he told the children he was going back to heaven and now they can be prophets on the earth to continue his work.
Year 4 had a Zoom session with a real-life Welsh shepherd where children of their age go out to work with the shepherd and train his dog.
The children keep workbooks that will go with them as they progress up the school. The children’s workbooks have been shared with several other schools in Clifton Diocese. It is clear to see that the children are learning from each other.
Improvements can be seen in the children’s reading, writing, speaking, listening and learning. The lower school has been able to ask questions and to form links in their learning. The early years children have been asking searching questions about topics such as heaven that make everyone think deeper.
The whole school is committed to Building the Kingdom and displays of the children’s work are vibrant and uplifting. The children have made a display in the school hall about Catholic Social Teaching, Caritas in Action and social justice, leadership and stewardship. Think globally act locally. Justice and social equality.
Lockdown and remote gave the perfect opportunity for the children to continue their projects at home. The children wrote prayers for the NHS key workers and shared them with each other.
It is great to see strategic planning is in place to prepare our children to become confident and articulate leaders in their rapidly changing world. One child said, “I am standing up for the people who have been treated unfairly.”
Holy Family Parish parishioners have benefited from Building the Kingdom because their First Holy Communion group have incorporated lots of initiatives into their course. The children organised a local litter pick and more activities are planned. This has helped local children in the parish who do not go to a Catholic Primary school.
All the Governors are delighted by the impact Building the Kingdom has had on Holy Family school and want to thank the children and all the staff for their hard work and dedication.
RE-Link and Foundation Governor
What the staff think
It is very clear and easy to use. All the ideas showed progression.
The training has since continued to be inspirational, the staff have constantly wanted to find out more and have developed a passion for subjects that they admitted they had previously been reluctant to cover but now have the confidence to teach, such as social justice issues.
A teacher said that they were ‘amazed that CST could be found in so many subjects, not just RE.’
All see the new focus for the curriculum as fitting in well with the ethos and mission statement for their school. For example, a teacher remarked that: ‘BTK helps to fulfil the Mission Statement and Caritas in Action gives more opportunities to cover it in the curriculum’. They have found the changed approach to the curriculum more creative and more explorative.
It was felt that this way of learning enabled all to move towards a deeper understanding of the Church’s teaching. The teachers felt that by providing a Catholic education with a distinctive Catholic ethos and mission at the centre meant that the school is truly living out its mission. They observed that ‘it has become the centre of everything that is done at school, the Mission Statement is being truly lived’.
It was felt that the impact on the policies and approach has meant that there is a deeper level of questioning by both staff and pupils, for example, one teacher suggested that ‘the children are asking more questions as their curiosity grows’
‘When two of the Y6 pupils were invited to speak at a training event about the impact of BTK they were able to do so with eloquence and enthusiasm. The ethos and mission of the school shone through them in their words and their passion for their learning’. The partnership and local BTK network group are particularly helpful in sharing ideas and different activities, and inspiring each other. The ethos shines through the policies through the dignity of people. ‘The children are more aware it is all about everyone working together towards a shared goal’.
All felt that one of the major benefits of this new focus is seen particularly in speaking and listening.
One teacher felt that the vocabulary and language that the children are using means they can hold a conversation and respect others’ ideas and contributions.
The biggest impact has been on the children’s responses, their inquisitiveness and their vocabulary. They are learning really quickly and have the confidence to be able to question things,
One teacher remarked that ‘the children have shown that they are able to think more about the school values, they are able to give reason and purpose behind activities and tasks that they carry out’. They are more aware of people in different situations to themselves, for example; the imprisoned, not just those in jail but locked in with their own ideas or emotional poverty.
One teacher felt that the children have become more curious and more confident to speak out.
It has had a clear impact on the quality of their writing. All classes are engaged due to the deeper questioning. The children are thinking more deeply. In RE there is evidence of an increased level of the depth of understanding which can be seen in their books. One teacher stated that ‘a Catholic identity is at the centre of everything we do’. One teacher said that there are bigger questions at the centre of every subject and that CST has brought together a distinct Catholic culture to the curriculum.