Our School

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

If anyone has material possessions and ignores his brother in need, how can he love God? 1 John 3:17

At St Joseph’s we promote an option for the poor in all we do. God’s love is universal; he does not side with oppressors, but loves the poor and humble. In Luke’s Gospel, as Jesus begins his ministry, he states clearly those principles which will guide him. He talks about being ‘Good News’ for the poor, and throughout the Gospel demonstrates his compassion for and his involvement with those on the margins of society. He overturns convention: those who are poor are blessed

This is our call today to hold a preferential option for the poor.

Pope Benedict in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est reminded us that caring for those who are poor is a defining characteristic of the church and that the definition of poor extends beyond those who lack physical wealth and extends to those in any form of need. The Psalmist reminds us that “God does not forget the cries of the poor” and neither should we.

The Church's love for the poor ... is a part of her constant tradition. This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church, which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defence, and liberation

Where is it seen in our curriculum?


Option for the poor


In Year 8, pupils read Mark’s Gospel and learn about its key themes. There are numerous references to the importance of forgetting about material possessions and following Jesus. Pupils examine these teachings, then consider how these can be best applied in the 21st century.

In Year 9, pupils learn about the five pillars of Islam. During this unit, pupils empathise with how the less fortunate feel when fasting during the month of Ramadan. They also cover the third pillar (Zakah) which requires Muslims to give 2.5% of their wealth to charity.

In Year 11, pupils learn about Catholic teachings about poverty. During this unit, they learn about the preferential option for the poor, considering whether or not it means that the Catholic Church should give up all its wealth to benefit the poor. Pope Francis’ teachings on Evangelii Gaudium 198 are also covered.

Year 13 learn about Liberation Theology, considering the ways in which unequal societies affect the poor, taking action to work for justice in the world.


The class system and the social differences between wealth and poverty are key themes within much of the English Curriculum. Students are taught about the class divide, particularly in the Elizabethan and Victorian eras, and how disadvantaged and mistreated the poor have been throughout history, yet how we as a society should help all those in need.


Mathematics in the KS3 and KS4 curriculum as well as core maths in KS5 helps us to understand the world and what is happening in it. We could not work out fair wages or develop accurate and impartial measurements of poverty, literacy and mortality without mathematics.


During both KS3 and KS4 Biology students learn about nutrition which is crucial especially for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Students examine different foods and understand which foods contain the key nutrients needed to live and be healthy. In GCSE Physics students learn about energy conservation in the home and will understand how they can ensure their homes are energy efficient. They also learn about energy bills and how energy usage is transferred into a bill using kilowatt hours.


Social History is taught throughout the curriculum and it is usually the impact on the poor that shows the impact of individuals, nations and event

In Year 7 students study Migration to Britain to attain how different groups of people have been treated when migrating to Britain such (Irish; Empire Windrush).

In year 8 Historians focus on the British Empire and this allows Year 8 students to study life in India and the impact the British Empire had on the Indian Rebellion. Students also study empire in the America examining Enslavement and the devastating impact this had on lives then moving on to modern discrimination through the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matters. Students in year 8 and 9 also look at social matters such as the Right for Women to gain the Vote.

Students in Year 9 study the Holocaust and the persecution to extermination of Jews and other ethnic groups in Nazi Germany.

Year 12 and 13 curriculum allows students to study the Quest for Civil Rights and the Quality of Life in the USA. Students then focus on South Africa: The apartheid nation. Finally students in Year 13 focus on the British Empire (abolition of enslavement; American War of Independence; Indian Rebellion; Colonisation of Australia - genocide?)


In Geography students discover how less developed economies are vulnerable to natural hazards due to their geography; such as plate boundaries, and discover how wealth and accessibility to resources make some people more vulnerable.

Students discover the communities at risk of climate change and varying weather patterns to create solutions and discussions around support that can be provided.

Focus on areas of desertification, such as Southern Spain, and how desertification could impact populations as a result of human actions upon the land. Discussions around respect for water supplies and land degradation.

Students learn about a range of natural hazards, also referred to as ‘Acts of God’. There is a particular emphasis on the vulnerability of different communities and the solutions available to them.

Students learn about Mumbai in depth. They discuss the disparity between rich and poor populations and evaluate the options of different stakeholders to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the population.

Effects of rapid urbanisation and urban trends in different parts of the world with varying characteristics of economic and social development. Students are taken to London to see the impacts of regeneration in that community.



Within the French curriculum the impact on decisions of Government are studied by students such as in Year 9 – Refugees situation in France. In Year 11 – Homeless people and charity work. In Year 12 students study helping those in need and Year 13 students study how do we treat disadvantage people?


Within the Spanish curriculum students study and describing a fundraising event as well as in year 11 when students study Charity and volunteering.


Option for the poor is taught across all year groups in the PSHE curriculum when students study Intolerance and Radicalisation, Social Justice & Systematic Racism, Feminism, The Equality Act 2010 & Discrimination, Privilege and Gender Identity, Transgender & LGBTQ+


Within PE we look both practically and theoretically at how individuals can be physically active, despite their background. We introduce children to a variety of sports some of which would not be accessible due to finances, out of school. In GSCE PE we look at the socio-economical impact on to participation in sports and ways to overcome that barrier.


Art as an expression of the human condition and human dignity threads throughout our curriculum discussion and exploration. Awareness of origins and struggles of Artists and craftspeople addresses with empathy socio economic differences.


Awareness of Social and moral issues is paramount in Design and Technology, Students are encouraged to spread awareness through the design and distribution of products for specific charities (poppies) discussion and awareness of issues that contribute to poverty and food poverty, an awareness of international and national dishes and staple foods, famine, issues that contribute to food poverty. Considering how to Make less with more in food and in product design.


In Drama we a look at a variety of schema in both Ks 3 and 4  that cover topics such as

Year 7: It don’t matter if your’e black or white which looks at racial discriminations and the morals around this.

Year 8: The Slave trade where students put themselves into the shoes of slaves and the plantation owners, this also generated great class discussions about poverty

Year 9: We look at war which covers many things including Nazi Germany and the current climate in Ukraine.

In KS4 we follow the OCR stimulus where we have looked at stimuli such as Another Day in Paradise. They also study Blood Brothers by Willy Russell which covers the economic depression in the 80’s and the impact it had on the families at the time.


Option for the poor is explored through both curricular and extra-curricular music.

Apart from our studies into West African Music, the Slave Trade and this impacted the development of all popular music through the 20th Century, we also explore how wealth was and is distributed throughout the music industry. For example, within the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras

Business and Economics

Government intervention and business involvement in the economy ensures that students learn about how paying tax and community projects can improve the livelihood of the poor. Learning about community involvement as an individual teaches the students what they can do to improve the life of the needy.


Students in Law learn about Option for the Poor when examining the rights of the individual both in substantive and non-substantive law. Students examine Law and Justice, the Right to a fair trial and how individuals can gain access to legal funding. In
Year 13 when studying Human Rights Law (Article 2) students examine refugees at criteria relating the rights to life.


Option for the poor plays a key part in discussion from student’s beliefs when examining in Year 12 - Awareness and Treatment of Phobias, Depression and OCD               In Year 13 - Awareness and Treatment of Schizophrenia as well as Economic and Ethical Implications of Research are studied.


Option for the poor plays a key part in discussion from student’s beliefs when examining in Year 12 - The formation of Class, Gender, Ethnic and National Identities. The Role of the Family in forming Gender and Class Inequalities and Class, Ethnic and Gender Differentials in Educational Attainment. In Year 13 students study Class, Gender, Ethnic and Age Patterns in Crime and the 'Typical Criminal' in Law enforcement as well as the Creation of Gender, Class, Ethnic and Age Inequalities