The Oratory School was founded by Blessed John Henry Newman, and it is to him that the school looks for inspiration and guidance. The Oratory School is a Catholic School for boys, meaning that it is a Catholic school which is unashamed of its Catholicity whilst recognising that not all the boys in the school are Catholic. Religious Education is then a broad term describing that religious formation and study of religion which goes on in the classroom. Here at The Oratory School, Theology is firmly founded in the teaching of Catholic Christianity in keeping with the spirit and example of our founder, John Henry Newman, and in line with the Catholic Bishops’ Curriculum Directory. If you are studying the subject to exam level, then it is called Religious Studies – RS – which is the exam boards’ official title for the syllabuses.
In years 1-3 pupils follow the course, “Way, Truth and Life” the textbooks of which are published by TERE (Teachers’ Enterprise in Religious Education). They cover the gospel narrative of Christ’s life and teaching, Passion, Death, and Resurrection, as well as basic Christian doctrine on God, the Church, the Sacraments, feasts, saints, and the after-life. The aim is to give an excellent foundation of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic Christian faith which lies at the heart of The Oratory community. In the Sixth Form, a suitably broader range of content is studied: world faiths, ethical issues, Church history, religious philosophy.
All boys study full GCSE course (AQA Religious Studies, Specification B), on four periods a week. The boys study the compulsory paper on Roman Catholicism which is 50% of the course. The other 50% is split between two papers: Judaism and Mark’s Gospel. Naturally this course does not examine each candidate’s own faith, but requires a thorough knowledge of the material – as in any academic discipline.
Currently the school is following the PreU course of Theology and Philosophy studying Ethics, New Testament, and an Introduction to Philosophy. Pupils are taught by members of the department who are highly qualified in their fields.
Fr Elliott teaches classes throughout the school including A-Level. Similarly Mr Adrian Dulston and Mr Jason Pennisi teach throughout the school. The department is housed in large, friendly, dedicated classrooms with en suite offices and storage and all the usual audio-visual furnishings. There is a large collection of books for boys to use and the Library is stocked with an excellent selection of reference works. Fr Kenneth Macnab is the School Chaplain and helps with the Sixth Form core RI teaching as does our Deputy Head – Pastoral Mr Matthew Fogg who joined the school in January 2018.
At the heart of the Oratorian ethos which Cardinal Newman wanted for his school is the life-affirming nature of a deep and active faith: to be Christian is to be fully and enjoyably human. To this end we make a number of trips and visits each year which combine fun and interest with sound doctrinal input and spiritual reflection. St Philip Neri’s own recipe for the religious formation of young men!
Our trips include Westminster, a Newman “pilgrimage”. Harvington Hall, Arundel, and nearer to home for the younger years, Mapledurham, Littlemore, and Fawley Court.
Head of Department