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Vision & Ethos


Don Bosco’s “vision” for educating young people developed over time, as he came to understand the meaning of a symbolic dream which he had when he was just nine years of age. At the time the dream made no sense to himself or his family. But when, as a young priest, he began to work with poor, homeless, rough boys on the streets of Turin, his dream slowly began to reveal itself to him. The visionary and prophetic nature of this and other dreams had a profound effect on him.

In his dream, he was visited by a man of dignified appearance in white robes who, when the young John raced to stop a crowd of children swearing and fighting with his own angry words and his fists, told him that these difficult children would not be won over with violence and harshness.  The young Bosco didn’t understand this and asked the man to show him how. The man said that a woman would come to him to explain. Then, in his dream, a beautiful lady in long robes appeared to him and told him that these difficult children would only be won over by reason and loving kindness.

The implications of this dream remain at the heart of his educational system and they are shared by us now in our Salesian school.


Our school ethos reflects all that has gone before in this document. It is the application of the foregoing principles, values and ideas that creates our ethos on the ground. It is what a person senses when they walk in the doors of our school.  Our task is to enable, nurture and tend to it. Ethos, it is said, is what remains in the memories of our students long after informational details are forgotten. Ethos is what is felt and that is why it remains. It is the pulse of the school which resonates in all encounters and relationships. It is the soil from which we grow and the air which sustains us.   We stand for our welcoming, listening, learning community. It is our privilege, as Salesian educators, to make that gift possible for our students.

When people tried to articulate the educational success and the life-giving atmosphere of Don Bosco’s flagship work in Valdocco, they were struck by the fact that all facets of the young person’s life were engaged. It was the multidimensional approach that impressed them. It was a school but it was more than a school. So to encapsulate the whole experience they  interpreted it through the lens of four metaphors: HOME, SCHOOL, PLAYGROUND, PARISH. Each incorporates the touchstones of Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness.

Home: The experience of ‘home’ creates an environment of confidence and familiarity, where young people are not only welcome but feel welcomed and ‘at home’ in an atmosphere of cheerfulness. It is a place of empathy and friendly welcome…..

  • Where values can be shared

  • Where young people are treated with respect

  • Where young people are treated with reason rather than ‘force’

  • Where young people are protected from bullying

  • Where the weak or fragile are seen, protected and enabled

  • Where young people feel listened to and understood

  • Where young people live in an atmosphere permeated by kindness

  • Where young people can “belong” and feel that sense of belonging

  • Where forgiveness is always offered

  • Where our exceptional, farmland environment can be a unique character in our school story

  • Where a structure of pastoral care underpins the work of every member of the staff.

School: The experience of “school” creates an environment where the young person can feel confident in their learning opportunities. A school is a place…..

  • Where every young person develops the skills and attitudes essential for life in society

  • Where young people are considered in a holistic manner

  • Where young people are praised independently of their intellectual capacity

  • Where academic excellence is pursued

  • Where children are explicitly encouraged to respect each other and all members of the school community and where there are high behavioural expectations

  • Where young people are protected from bullying and learn to manage conflict and understand authority

  • Where the general atmosphere is one of cheerfulness and affirmation and talents are identified and nurtured

  • Where there is respect for property and general cleanliness

  • Where students are at the heart of everything we do.

Playground: The “playground” is a natural environment where young people can form and deepen friendship and trust. The playground is not seen as a separate ‘irritant’ from the rest of the educational project. Rather it is seen as an unstructured educational opportunity. For Bosco the quiet ‘word in the ear’ was seen as a very important friendly disciplinary technique or way of encouraging. The playground can often be the place to get to know the ‘real’ person. The playground is the environment…..

  • Where physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is promoted

  • Where young people learn the importance of fairness, sportswoman/manship, resilience to cope with defeat, failure and the vagaries of luck

  • Where opportunities to feel a sense of “belonging” to the school can take hold

  • Where joyful expression and celebration can occur

  • Where adults and young people can share talents

  • Where connections between people are formed and friendship can develop

  • Where conflict can be resolved.

Parish: The experience of “parish” must be understood as a metaphor for the whole enterprise. This experience is built on two main pillars; (1) that every young person has in his or her heart the desire for God and the desire for a full life and (2) a series of interventions suitable for young people, with the goal of helping them to discover and follow their vocation. School as “parish” means school is a place…..

  • Where the emphasis is placed on the awakening and development of the spiritual self in the young person

  • Where the Salesian approach evokes the young person’s collaboration, which is crucial to the educational process, because of the possibilities, choices and personal experiences it creates

  • Where the search for underlying motivations for living is encouraged

  • Where young people receive the prescribed religious education time for Catholic Voluntary Schools

  • Where practical Christianity (“Love God and Love your Neighbour”) is encouraged through awareness of the Church’s social teaching on justice, leading to action eg fundraising, raising awareness of issues of social justice

  • Where “Loving Kindness” has an evangelizing component

  • Where the liturgical year, ritual and symbol are significant e.g. Christmas, Lent, Easter, November, para-liturgy, the sacraments, prayer, iconography

  • Where a Chaplaincy team is available for students.