CATHOLIC SCHOOLS are to step up a spiritual gear with a set of values designed to reinforce their teaching, the church's leading educationist revealed this week.
Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said the new resource would help teachers focus on the importance of values in education.
He said it would show how the values engraved on the Scottish Parliament mace - wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity - related to those of the Beatitudes (the eight blessings that mark the opening of the Sermon on the Mount).
Mr McGrath, who was addressing the annual conference of the Catholic Headteachers' Association of Scotland, said the resource would help teachers think about the meaning of values and give examples of action to take, drawing on successful practices such as "buddy" or "playground pals"
The importance of personal integrity would be stressed. Mr McGrath explained that the selfless values espoused in the Beatitudes were powerful because they were "counter-cultural", going against the prevailing trend of aspiring to material riches.
He said the resource also tied in with the emphasis on values in A Curriculum for Excellence. "Excellence is not just about attainment - it's about excellence in your entire life," he said. "It's trying to encourage a values-based focus. We think that's perfectly compatible with A Curriculum for Excellence."
Values for Life, which will be published in June, will also give guidance on dealing with issues surrounding social studies and science, so that teachers are better able to handle discussion about genetics and ethical arguments about where life begins and ends.
Again, Mr McGrath feels this will fit in well with the curriculum changes, which will encourage a broader understanding of science.
"It's good groundwork for saying the learning outcome in school is about improving your life and that of other people," he said. "It's not about learning in a vacuum."