Our Ethos & Values

The school’s Catholic ethos and ASPIRE values underpin all that we do. We are a member of the Aquinas Trust of Catholic Schools in Waltham Forest and work closely with our partner primary schools to provide the best possible Catholic education for all our young people. We aim to educate the whole person, to develop each student’s academic potential as well as nurturing their creativity, spirituality, character and resilience. We seek to instil in each of our students the belief that they should have a strong concern for others and that they should seek to do good, both in their school, and in their wider community.

The majority of our students remain with us for seven years, leaving our Sixth Form as confident young adults keen to use their gifts and talents to make the world a better place. 

As Headteacher I expect the very highest standards from all members of our school community 

The school has very close partnerships with our parishes and with parents all of which helps to reinforce our Catholic ethos and sense of community. In school there is a very great emphasis on extra-curricular activities and all students are offered every opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills through after school clubs in an array of different fields including sport, music, art and drama, STEM Club, debating society and a very popular Duke of Edinburgh programme.

The achievements of our students and staff were highly praised in our most recent Ofsted report and the school has won numerous awards for the quality of academic outcomes we achieve. The following extract from that report summarises the main points in our Ofsted report of 2023:

“Pupils appreciate the supportive staff who push them to go the extra mile in their work. Staff promote the values of respect and equality.”

“Pupils learn to treat others as they would like to be treated. They are safe and happy at school. Pupils value liturgical assemblies which encourage them to reflect.” “Leaders encourage pupils to be good citizens and to help others.” 

“The school supports pupils’ personal development effectively. Teachers provide opportunities for pupils to reflect spiritually.”

We are fortunate to have a thriving sixth form housed in its own specialist accommodation. We accept applications to our sixth form from our own year 11 students and also from students from other schools across the borough and beyond, who would like to experience their sixth form education in a school based sixth form with a Catholic ethos. Further details about sixth form admissions can be found in the sixth form section of the website.

During the past three years the school has undergone a major building programme providing both new and refurbished facilities including many new classroom spaces, two new Learning Resource Centres and a new Sports Hall. These have given us a range of first-class facilities for many generations of future students.

We hope you find our website both informative and interesting. If you have any questions about our school then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Mrs Carolyn Laws

Our Vision

That during their time at Holy Family Catholic School, every student is enabled to “be more” in every aspect of their life.

Our Mission

We educate the whole person, developing each student’s God-given potential and working together for the common good.

Our Ethos

Our Aspire values realise our vision and fulfil St Oscar Romero’s words: “aspire not to have more, but to be more”.

Achievement for all, regardless of starting points or ability

Service to others 

Participation in the life of the school and wider community

Integrity in our words and actions

Respect for each person

Equity so all can flourish

Diocese of Brentwood

Holy Family is a Catholic school governed by the Diocese of Brentwood. You can find out more about the Diocese of Brentwood Education Department by following the link below:


“An ethos is a way of living, behaving and doing things by people, though diverse, follow common values and are united by a shared vision of life.” (Monsignor Stack 2013)
We are a Catholic school and daily prayer and worship are integral to all that we do. We provide a range of opportunities for this. Staff briefings every morning begin with a prayer/reflection. Registration includes a prayer and every lesson is expected to begin or end with a prayer.

We offer staff and students the opportunity to attend Mass weekly on each site. At other times of the year we celebrate Mass in school, at the Our Lady and St George’s church. Once a year the entire school community gathers together at the Assembly Hall, the only time all 1,250 members of the school community can be in one pace together.

There are opportunities for students to receive the sacrament of reconciliation during Advent and Lent. Clergy from the local deanery and beyond make themselves available to hear confessions and on occasions we have had ten priests in the hall administering the sacrament.

It is important to note that the ethos permeates all aspects of school life; “The curriculum as a whole, and every part of it, is religious, since there is nothing which does not ultimately relate to God.”(Evaluating the Distinctive Nature of the Catholic school)

We are called after the ‘The Holy Family’ for a reason. The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph greatly influence our school ideals. We are a place where people are made feel welcome and cared for. We live in communion with each other and with God. A place where young people can be themselves. Where the Gospel is lived out in the everyday experience. A place of refuge and absence of fear.

With all families, there will be good times and difficult times. The important thing is to be there for each other. By helping others we are enhancing our own self worth and in loving others we are also loving God.
We are one family, there are no outsiders. We must look out for the vulnerable, the lonely, the lost and the disturbed among us. We must be a place where young people can share their problems and we can offer a listening ear.

At Holy Family we exist to guide young people in their learning, their faith and the right way to do things. To offer advice, share our experience, avoid pitfalls and help them succeed. To be a school where students develop their critical thinking skills and discover their God given talents and vocation. A place where the young and not so young can all be a people of change, challenge and transformation.


In May 2019 we had our diocesan RE inspection which went really well. We see many examples of our Catholic ethos in action daily at Holy Family.

This includes House celebrations of Mass, retreats in school and at Aylesford Friary and charitable work including our annual Student Community Action Day where sixth formers spend a day helping others in the community.

To read the full inspection report click the link below: 

Diocesan Report May 2019


The Aquinas Trust 

The Catholic schools in Waltham Forest have worked closely together for many years. In June 2015 we formally created a soft federation including Holy Family Catholic School, Our Lady and St George’s Primary School, St Joseph’s Infants, St Joseph’s Juniors and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. In 2017 this expanded to become known as the Aquinas Trust after St Thomas Aquinas, the great scholar and patron saint of students.

The Headteachers of the Aquinas Trust schools meet every half-term and we produce an annual joint development plan focused on the ways in which we can work together for our mutual benefit. Recent activities include an annual Mass for representatives of the pupils/students of each school, an annual start of academic year staff Mass, joint training events, Headteacher reviews of the provision in each school, the annual inter-primary school Sports Day and opportunities for primary age pupils to visit Holy Family and experience lessons in specialist areas such as science and technology.


Catholic Social Teaching

Catholics worldwide aim to mirror Jesus’ way of treating others. He warmly welcomed those whom society rejected and showed deep compassion for the afflicted and impoverished. Jesus urges us to do the same—to help the hungry, clothe the naked, and embrace strangers. The Church outlines seven essential principles of Catholic Social Teaching that guide us in understanding how to respond to the needs of those around us. At Holy Family, these principles are at the heart of everything we do. They shape our mission, vision, policies, curriculum, learning experiences, relationships, and services. Alongside our core values, they underpin everything we do.

Principles  rationale  what we do

1. Life and Dignity of the Human Person

All people are sacred, made in the image and likeness of God. People do not lose dignity because of disability, poverty, age, lack of success, or race. This emphasises people over things, being over having.

At Holy Family we work hard to ensure we implement inclusive teaching methods to accommodate different learning needs and use resources which celebrate diversity. Every student at Holy Family should feel valued and respected regardless of their abilities or background.

We are proud of our pastoral support at Holy Family. We focus on the holistic development of students entrusted into our care and provide assistance to those facing challenges.

We cultivate a school culture that champions appreciation and acceptance of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and races. Our large student body represents numerous cultures, and we actively celebrate this diversity. Through our assemblies, PSHCE, and Religious Education lessons, we instil values that underscore the sanctity of all human life. Throughout our curriculum, we engage in discussions and lessons that emphasise the intrinsic worth of every individual, promoting empathy and a deeper understanding of others.

We encourage staff to exemplify respect for human dignity through their interactions with students emphasising empathy, kindness, and fairness in all aspects of school life.

The intrinsic value of every individual as created in the image and likeness of God, is incorporated in our prayers and reflections nurturing a sense of reverence and appreciation for human life,

Our charity drives so far this academic year have included collecting hundreds of tins for our local SVP group to redistribute to families in our community, raising money for CAFOD’s harvest appeal, collecting toiletries for our Christmas Hamper appeal, having a bake sale to raise funds for the White Ribbon appeal and collecting money for Cafod’s Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal.

2. Call to Family, Community, and Participation (the Common Good)

The human person is both sacred and social. We realise our dignity and rights in relationship with others, in community. “We are one body; when one suffers, we all suffer.” We are called to respect all of God’s gifts of creation, to be good stewards of the earth and each other.

Our House Leaders organise and encourage students to actively participate in community service projects, fostering a sense of responsibility towards others and emphasising the importance of giving back to the community. Projects so far include helping parishioners prepare the Church before an Advent service, organising a Christmas party at , a litter pick in the community and students reading to residents at a local care home for the elderly.

We heavily focus on the sanctity and dignity of the human in our work on relationships in RSE and RE. We mark Anti-Bullying Week each year with a series of assemblies and activities and our Positive Behaviour Policy reflects our strong belief that it is our duty to provide a distinctive and inclusive Catholic education that encompasses the principles of Catholic social teaching and fulfils St Oscar Romero’s words, “ Aspire not to have more but to be more.”

We have established peer support systems where older students guide and support younger ones, promoting a sense of belonging and fostering positive relationships within the school community.

We encourage  collaborative learning experiences that emphasise teamwork, cooperation, and mutual respect, reflecting the idea of working together for a common goal. Our Student Leadership Team is one example of this as are our school sports’ day  and our Big House Celebration Day both held in the summer term.

We encourage our staff and students to implement programmes focusing on environmental stewardship, such as recycling, community clean-ups, or educational campaigns on sustainability, emphasising the importance of caring for God's creation. Our House Leaders and the PLT created a video resource for a PSHCE lesson on Cop28 for  all students.

3. Rights and Responsibilities

People have a fundamental right to life, food, shelter, health care, education and employment. All people have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities to respect the rights of others in the wider society and to work for the common good.

Our charity work and service projects, led by our House team, encourage students to actively participate in community service projects, fostering a sense of responsibility towards others and emphasising the importance of giving back to the community.

We forge partnerships with local organisations and charities, inviting guest speakers or organising joint initiatives to address community needs and demonstrate solidarity with those in need. Charities we have worked with recently include: CAFOD, Haven House, Project Zero, The White Ribbon Campaign, MIND, Carefree Kids, MacMillan.

4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor.

We have developed inclusive policies within the school to ensure that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds have access to resources such as bursaries, academic support, or extracurricular activities without financial barriers.


Our curriculum across the subjects is infused with discussions, case studies, and lessons that highlight social justice issues, poverty, and the importance of advocating for the rights of the poor and vulnerable. 


Our Justice and Peace Group and our Young SVP Group organise events, guest speaker sessions, and workshops that raise awareness about poverty-related issues and encourage students to advocate for systemic change through letter-writing campaigns, petitions,andr engagement with policymakers.

Rather than organising our usual ‘Secret Santa’, our staff opted instead to commit to buying a gift intended for our most vulnerable students. 

5. The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

People have a right to decent and productive work, fair wages, private property and economic initiative. The economy exists to serve people, not the other way around.

Teaching about the dignity of work and workers’ rights are incorporated across various subjects at all our key stages.

Discussions on ethical business practices are encouraged, emphasising the responsibility of businesses to ensure fair treatment and just compensation for their employees. Our Business, Economics, History, Politics and Sociology courses at KS5 look to instil a sense of social responsibility among future leaders. 

6. Solidarity

We are one human family. Our responsibilities to each other cross national, racial, economic and ideological differences. We are called to work globally for justice.

At Holy Family we are committed to engaging with our students in global social justice initiatives. We have recently raised money with our bucket collection following our Christmas Carol service  for CAFOD’s Israeli-Palestinian Crisis Appeal.

There are opportunities within our curriculum to explore diverse perspectives on global issues. Lessons in English, RE, Geography, History, Sociology, PSHCE promote empathy, understanding, and action for a more just and inclusive world.

7. Care for God’s Creation

The goods of the earth are gifts from God. We have a responsibility to care for these goods as stewards and trustees, not as mere consumers and users.

We have established an Eco Club whose recent projects have included promoting recycling in school, cleaning up our school grounds and creating sustainable gardens on both sites.

We are very proud that we were awarded the CAFOD Live Simply Award and the fact that it was our students who were the driving force behind change in sustainability and promotion of Laudato Sí values.

Our House Leaders and the PLT led the promotion of activities during COP 28 week by encouraging staff and students to employ energy-saving practices, waste reduction strategies and water conservation. 

Our  gardens are maintained by our prayer garden team to emphasise the importance and beauty of God’s creation. We encourage students to reflect on their relationship with nature by incorporating prayers and scripture readings that highlight our responsibility to care for the earth as stewards of God’s creation.