Aims and Values

Our Aims and Values

Our mission statement guides everything in school and helps to ensure that we develop the unique character of each and every pupil in our school. It was devised in consultation with staff, the community and our pupils. It is important to work with all stakeholders collectively to ensure full buy-in. We have worked hard at making sure that all of our St Matthew’s family can articulate the mission statement, but, more importantly, try to live out these values every day in school.

St Matthew’s mission statement is,

“Welcome to our happy school, where everyone is valued and given the opportunity to ‘let their light shine.’ With Jesus in our hearts, we encourage love and respect for all. We strive to reach our goals, as we learn, and grow, in a safe and enjoyable environment.”

These values are a core thread which feed into our taught PSHE curriculum, extra-curricular and personal development curriculum, along with communications such as newsletters and social media. They inform all school policies, where these values are lived out in the choices we make to allow the children to ‘let their light shine’. Our own mission statement also supports the Bishop Chadwick vision of ‘enabling each individual to fulfil their God given potential’, as part of a wider family of Catholic schools.

St Matthew’s is an inclusive, welcoming school, where we see our mission statement lived out by our children each day. We achieve this by actively talking about gospel values in school. Our ‘Weekly Word’ gives the children opportunities to reflect on the importance of these values in order to understand both what they mean and how they can be inspired by them to love and respect all. Throughout our curriculum we teach these values, displaying these in classrooms and using examples in lessons to discuss the importance of them. To show how important these values are to us we have a weekly celebration with a ‘Gospel Values’ certificate presented to a child from each class.

Staff model our values in positive leadership behaviours and their relationships with parents, colleagues and the children at St Matthew’s. This shows the importance of our mission statement to all members of our community, supporting our children in rising to the challenge of living out kindness, respect and reflecting on how they learn and grow.

In addition to subject areas, the RE and PSHE curriculum explore character development. As part of this, we have links to the local parish where our children have the chance to attend the local mass and spend time with the parishioners building communication skills. Reaching out to the community is really important to character development. We need to make sure that our children understand that they are part of the St Matthew’s community, but that they are also part of a wider local community.

For example, we have recently focused on tolerance and respect. As part of our enrichment provision, we invited into school speakers from different faiths including Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam. All children were brought together following these talks in a celebration assembly, where individual children were able to share their faith with the wider school.

We also give our children the chance to strive and reach personal goals in the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer. This supports the wider development of our pupils, whichis important if they are to have the chance to learn and grow in character. A central part of our character programme is the careers programme at St Matthew’s. This includes a Careers Fair in Year 6, when we invite local employers, including parents, to share their careers. Trips to Nissan open our children’s eyes to a range of careers and challenge stereotypes. Our Year 6 children also visit Sunderland University and experience what it is like to be a student. This aspect of character development is about raising aspirations.

Opportunities for children to lead is very important to their character development to allow them to truly ‘let their light shine’ and develop essential life skills. At St Matthew’s, we have planned for a range of leadership groups, which include; Eco-Committee, Junior Leadership Team, Playground Leaders, Peer Mentors, Buddy system, RE Ambassadors and Mini Vinnies. This helps all aspects of character development, building confidence and the self-belief that they can lead, influence and have their voice heard. Working to raise funds, lead initiatives in school or working with prospective parents, gives our students a chance to contribute to the community. We ensure that a wide range of children of all ages have a chance to access these different opportunities.

At St Matthew’s, our visitors always comment on how respectful the children are. Children welcome visitors and show gratitude. They are proud of their school and understand how their actions can have an impact on others. Holding doors open, smiling and greeting visitors is a great example of this.

We have also recently introduced a ‘proud cloud’ where children’s work is shown in assembly each week, showcasing their learning in a warm and welcoming environment. Displays across school are integral to celebrating both effort and achievements. This has raised the expectations of how important gospel values are and how we need to live out our mission statement each day.

In summary, our mission statement and gospel values underpin everything that we do at St Matthew’s and allow us to recognise that everyone who enters our school is made in the image and likeness of Jesus. One of our RE Ambassador’s, Izzy, articulated this perfectly when asked about our mission statement, simply saying, ‘It is wonderful because it means that we are a happy school in which everyone is welcomed as a friend.’

British Values

The DfE have recently reinforced the need “to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.” The promotion of ‘British values’ is central to Catholic education because British values have their origin in the Christian values of our nation.

At St Matthew’s, these values are reinforced and taught regularly and in the following ways:

  • Democracy:

Our children at St Matthew’s are involved in democratic processes. Children have the opportunity to have their voices heard through pupil groups such as our School Council, Junior Leadership Team, Eco Committee, Playground Leaders, Peer Mediators, Mini Vinnies and also through Pupil questionnaires. The elections of the Junior Leadership Team and School Council representatives are based solely on pupil votes. All children are listened to by adults and their thoughts and suggestions are considered and respected by every adult in school. Children help to decide which charities they would like to fundraise for, particularly children in our Mini Vinnies and School Council groups. Our School Council and Junior Leadership Team also help to make key decisions across school for the good of their peers.

  • The Rule of Law:

The importance of Laws, whether they be those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout regular school days, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school assemblies. Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. In Religious Education lessons and in the daily Catholic life of our school, the rules of the church are highlighted. Children learn about the 10 commandments and the Precepts of the Church. At St Matthew’s children help to develop fair rules to use in classrooms and around the school including the playground. Visits from authorities such as our MP and also other parliamentary figures during Parliament Week are regular parts of our calendar and help reinforce this message.

  • Individual Liberty:

Within school, pupils are actively encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for young pupils to make choices safely, through the provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advise how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety, NSPCC and PSHE lessons. Children know that they have the freedom to make choices about choosing the level of challenge in some lessons, particularly Numeracy lessons. Whether it be through choice of challenge or participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.

  • Mutual Respect:

Our school ethos; ‘Let your light shine’ is an ethos based on love and acted out in daily school life. Our school ethos and behaviour policy revolves around Christian Values. In RE and PSHE lessons, we promote that every person is unique and created in the image of God. Posters and display boards around school illustrate our ethos and mission here at St Matthew’s, along with all the British Values. We promote respect for others and this is reiterated through our classroom and learning rules, as well as our behaviour and anti-bullying policies. We support numerous charities at different times of the year; eg: CAFOD, People’s Kitchen, MacMillan Cancer Care and NSPCC. Assemblies, liturgies and discussions about such charities allow our children to consider and pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world.  Children make all visitors feel very welcome here at St Matthew’s, a point often commented on, and we work together to help one another.

  • Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs:

Our core subject, Religious Education, provides pupils with a deep understanding of their own faith as well as an awareness of other religious communities. We illustrate how Jesus encouraged tolerance with others in stories such as The Good Samaritan and The Woman at the Well, spreading the message that everyone is equal in the eyes of God.  We learn about ‘Other Faiths’, where our RE lessons are centred on a faith different to Christianity, eg: Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. Members of different faiths or religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school. The aim of this is to enable our children to understand these communities and to respect them. Children visit places of worship belonging to other faiths where possible and we celebrate festivals such as Diwali and Chinese New Year. Assemblies and discussions involving prejudices and prejudice-based bullying have been followed and supported by learning in RE, Thinking Skills and PSHE. Texts across school are also carefully chosen to include a range of different faiths, cultures and beliefs.