Caritas Award FAQs
These FAQs were last updated on 16th August 2012.
You can download a copy using the link below. You can also post a question for answering, using the form at the bottom of the page.
1 What is the Pope Benedict XVI Caritas Award?
The CARITAS AWARD has been established by the Bishops of Scotland as one way of keeping alive the legacy of Pope Benedict’s historic visit to our country in 2010.
It takes 3 elements - Witness, Learning & Reflection - and provides a structure through which to experience, record and share the impact of these on their faith journey.
The award takes a snap-shot of a young person’s faith witness in one year but is built on the learning and reflection that (s)he has experienced over the course of time within school. It is hoped that the award will encourage young people to recognise that they are part of a community of living faith and to consider how they can share their gifts and talents with the wider Church in the future.
2 Who can participate in the award?
The CARITAS AWARD is open to all young people in their final year of school. Pupils of all ability levels will be able to achieve the award. Pupils of all faiths and denominations will be welcome to join in and achieve the award.
Each school can decide locally which pupils they would like to invite to participate. Some schools may invite all S6 pupils to ‘sign up’; others may ask pupils to ‘apply’ to participate and others may approach individual pupils who would benefit from the experience.
However schools decide to involve pupils, it should be noted that the award is intended to be inclusive of all pupils who meet the success criteria.
3 Can parishes nominate young people for the CARITAS AWARD?
Where a parish has no associated Catholic secondary school, it may wish to nominate young people who are in their final school year and are likely to meet the awards criteria. Parish co-ordinators can be provided with resources which will support the Witness, Learning and Reflection of participants. They will be required to arrange appropriate ‘Gathering Points’ to support the young people involved and to make the final submission for the award.
4 What is expected of award participants?
Participants will be asked to record and share their learning about, and living of, their faith. The award uses learning about faith (within R.E. and across the school) as a starting point for further reflection which leads to action (witness). Participants in the CARITAS AWARD will be supported in deciding how they can develop and use their gifts in a way that witnesses to God’s love in their communities.
Pupils will be expected to attend and participate in Religious Education lessons within school, as normal. In addition, they will be supported throughout the award year to reflect on their learning experience and they will contribute their time and talents to a chosen activity or ‘ministry’ within school and in a local parish or faith community.
The impact of this learning, witness and reflection will provide the evidence used to assess if pupils have met the award criteria.
5 What evidence is needed to obtain the award?
Throughout the year participants will be asked to gather and submit evidence of their Faith Witness, Faith Learning and Faith Reflection. This evidence will be noted, recorded and gathered together for assessment purposes.
Pupils will submit one piece of work to the school co-ordinator about how faith Learning has influenced their thinking and actions. This evidence can take many forms, for example: jotter work, a project, a presentation or a report (verbal or written) on research that has been completed about a faith related topic. The topic may have been covered in R.E., in another subject or be based on any rich faith experience from school life. It could also be a new piece of work that pupils have undertaken independently. This work may reflect learning that pupils have experienced at any point in their school career and does not have to be an example of S6 work.
Pupils will also be expected to log their participation in school and parish faith witness activities. A minimum time requirement of 20 hours for each is necessary to gain the CARITAS AWARD.
SCES will provide resources to support and guide pupils through a process of prayer, faith reflection and discernment, connecting their learning, reflection and witness during the award year. The main resources provided will take the form of the 4 Gathering Point presentations and the Caritas Journals. Completion of both are necessary and important dimensions of the CARTIAS AWARD. The fruits of this process will be used by pupils to report on the personal impact of participating in the award. This work can be shared in a number of ways and will be the main vehicle for assessing if pupils have met the criteria for the award.
SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE REQUIRED:
- FAITH LEARNING - report (verbal or written – assessed within school)
- FAITH WITNESS - log-book record of activities (log sheet provided by SCES – assessed by awards committee)
- FAITH REFLECTION - Caritas Journal and personal report on impact (Only some parts of the journal need to be submitted.)
NB Each element will be supported by the resources provided by SCES.
6 Does this mean the R.E. Department will have to change their course?
No. The CARITAS AWARD has been designed to allow young people to take what they have learned about their faith (in R.E. and other learning experiences) and apply it in a different context.
The award materials focus in a particular way on Pope Benedict’s encyclical ‘Deus Caritas Est’ as a central point for learning and reflection. However the award also expects pupils to explore aspects of Scripture and Church teaching in addition to this. Pupils can choose any relevant faith related topic or theme and report on how this learning has impacted on their faith life and actions.
7 How much time out of class will pupils need to complete the award?
Each dimension of the award has been designed to support pupils as they:
- report on their learning
- come together to reflect on their faith journey
- independently volunteer to participate in faith witness activities.
Schools will decide how best to ‘gather’ pupils participating in the CARITAS award for 4 Gathering Points - times of reflection and discernment at different stages in the year. Some schools may wish to offer the content and experience of the Gathering Points to all S6 pupils as a form of prayer and reflection during core RE time. Others may decide to use the resources as the basis for assembly materials, and others may plan other times for the CARITAS AWARD pupils to come together to pray, reflect and share how their journey is progressing. However schools decide to use the resources, the tasks and prompts (associated with the Gathering Points which will assist the participants in gathering their thoughts, reflections and evidence) can be completed in the pupils’ own time.
It is expected that pupils will manage their own Faith Witness activities and the majority of these activities will be planned for out with class time. The report on Faith Learning and the Faith Witness activities should be completed during the pupils’ own time.
8 Will schools have to start new Faith Witness Activities?
The award is intended to recognise and celebrate much of the Faith Witness that already exists within our schools. Schools will not be expected to start any new initiatives in order to facilitate the CARITAS AWARD but to promote the ways in which pupils can become active in the faith life of the school.
However, schools may find that as a fruit of this new award, staff and pupils may become aware of opportunities and ministries which could be undertaken by pupils to support and enhance the faith life of the school. If these are initiated in one year they may then be maintained, nurtured and grown in successive years by pupils participating in the award.
9 What if there are pupils who are active in the life of the school but who do not participate in parish activities?
There are several awards and qualifications already available to recognise the achievement, contribution and participation of pupils in the many roles and activities which they undertake in their local communities.
The Pope Benedict XVI CARITAS AWARD offers an opportunity to celebrate the rich experience of faith witness which young people can give within their communities. The award recognises that some of our pupils are already active and committed within their homes, schools, parishes and dioceses and invites others to take up an invitation and respond to God’s call of love.
10 What if a pupil lives in a parish where there are limited opportunities to join activities and ministries?
The activities and ministries exemplified for pupils in the promotional material are intended to illustrate some of the possibilities within parishes. All parish clergy are being encouraged to welcome approaches by young people and to encourage parish organisations to consider their involvement. The range of activities undertaken by a variety of Church, parish and diocesan organisations and lay movements may interest pupils.
It is important that pupils investigate the variety of ways in which they can witness to their faith and do not see parish involvement as being limited to activities and ministries solely connected with liturgies and the ‘Church building’.
Pupils may choose to divide their activities between a local parish activity and a diocesan activity such as ‘Youth to Lourdes’ or participation in World Youth Day. Whatever the pupil decides, the action must be related to the ongoing work of the Church and they must be able to report on the impact that this action has had on their local parish life. Pupils may also decide to work in a parish associated with the school if there are activities and ministries that they are interested in which are not present within their own parish at this time.
There are also a number of Church organisations which support the mission to evangelise and promote the teachings of the Universal Church. Pupils may wish to investigate the possibilities of contributing to their work, along with their faith witness within their local parish community, to experience being part of the wider Church.
11 Which activities can be counted towards Faith Witness Activities?
As mentioned above (answer 10), the promotional material exemplifies a number of different possibilities for pupils to consider. It is important that pupils think about the reason behind their choice of activity and the impact that has on themselves and others. For example, one pupil may visit the local primary school to work with younger pupils as this will reflect well in their CV and personal statement for university. Another may do exactly the same activity but use this time with younger children to discern if they are being called by God to the vocation to teach. It is the motivation and reflection on the activity which makes it suitable for inclusion in the final submission for the CARITAS AWARD.
In guiding and advising pupils it may be that the co-ordinator has to ask individual pupils to reflect on the suitability of an activity or the timescale involved for logging. For example, pupils often are very enthusiastic about faith witness activities such as the SCIAF 24 hour fast. However, when they are asked to reflect on how much of that time was spent in public faith witness, they would agree that it was not the full 24 hour period. In negotiation with the co-ordinator an appropriate amount of hours can be agreed and logged.
12 What about pupils who are active in their faith witness but who would struggle to report on what they have done / learned?
The ways of gathering and reporting evidence for the award have been structured to ensure that all pupils who meet the criteria are able to achieve the award. Pupils will have a choice of formats for reporting on their experience. Schools can support and advise pupils as to the best way for them to demonstrate the impact of their faith journey during the award year.
Pupils can submit verbal and written evidence. Staff within schools can support pupils by using methods such as interviews and video evidence to demonstrate that pupils have met the award criteria.
13 Who will co-ordinate the award?
The CARITAS AWARD will be co-ordinated at different levels.
SCES will co-ordinate and support schools with resources throughout the year.
An independent awards panel will co-ordinate the judging of evidence and decide if pupils have met the award criteria.
Within the nominating schools / parishes a co-ordinator should facilitate the scheme and support pupils throughout the award year. The co-ordinator can be anyone with appropriate interest and skills. It is recommended that (s)he should work, in a team with other members of the school community, to help pupils as they journey through the CARITAS AWARD, supporting them in their choice of FAITH WITNESS, helping them to gather the evidence and report on their FAITH LEARNING and facilitating opportunities for the participants’ personal FAITH REFLECTION.
In the pilot year some schools found it beneficial for the co-ordinator to come from outwith the R.E. department, as this gave pupils a sense of the holistic nature of the award. However schools choose their co-ordinators, it is important that pupils understand the timescale for submissions and where to access support if needed. The CARITAS team could also include the school chaplain, where there is one, someone to link with the R.E. Department and someone from the local parish(es) who could help with parish communications. It would need the active support of the school leadership team.
14 How much support will pupils need?
Pupils will be supported through the resources to work independently throughout the award. The Gathering Points and Faith Witness activities will emphasise that while “faith is a personal act, it is not an isolated act” and promote the aspect of belonging to a community of faith.
While the school co-ordinator and staff within school may need to help pupils to identify appropriate activities for their Faith Witness, the initiative to join in and commit to an action should be taken by each young person.
Pupils will need to be reminded of the timeline and evidence points throughout the year. Some pupils may need individual support and encouragement at different points throughout the year to gather evidence.
15 Can pupils work in groups?
Each of the 3 elements of the awards allows pupils the flexibility to explore dimensions of their faith journey in pairs, groups and as individuals.
Pupils may decide to commit to a school or parish Faith Witness activity together, or to use the same piece of learning as the basis for their report on Faith Learning. During the Gathering Points pupils may want to discuss and share their thoughts about the moments of Faith Reflection.
While pupils can work together throughout the CARITAS year, the evidence which they submit should be personal and individual and should reflect their own faith journey and the impact that participating in the award has had for them.
16 Will all pupils enrolled gain the award?
The CARTIAS AWARD requires certain success criteria to be met in order to gain the award. Co-ordinators are asked to monitor pupil progress throughout the year and to encourage pupils to complete all of the requirements. However, it is the pupils’ own responsibility to ensure that they have met all of the award success criteria. Co-ordinators may decide it is appropriate to withdraw pupils from the CARITAS AWARD if they are not on track to meet the requirements of the award..
It is expected that the school will internally assess all submissions and notify SCES of those who have successfully met all of the success criteria. The Awards panel will then sample submissions from each school to moderate and verify their decisions. Further details will be provided.
17 How much will it cost?
In August schools will be expected to pay a non-returnable fee of £20 per enrolled pupil as a contribution towards the administrative and resource costs.
18 How does the award link with the SQA award in Religion, Beliefs and Values?
Anyone successfully gaining the Caritas award will also meet the assessment criteria for the SQA award in Religion, Beliefs and Values.
Each school will require to register with the SQA to become a presenting centre for the award and therefore also complete SQA requirements for in-house assessment, verification and moderation.
As schools may also decide to present pupils for the SQA award who are not completing the Caritas award it will be necessary to consult the school’s SQA co-ordinator and decide if the Caritas co-ordinator should also be the point of contact for the SQA award.
19 Where can I get more information?
The SCES website continues to be the main vehicle for information, news and resources on the CARITAS AWARD. Schools and parishes are encouraged to forward news of local developments, photographs etc., to SCES and this will be added to the website. This sheet of FAQs will also be updated as the scheme develops.
Throughout the year SCES will send updates via e-mail to the CARITAS co-ordinator. It is therefore important to let SCES know should any contact details change.
We are happy to answer any individual queries as they arise. Please do not hesitate to contact SCES for clarification on any aspect of the scheme. It is likely that the question which you wish to ask is already troubling other colleagues, so all enquiries will be welcomed.