John F Kennedy Catholic School

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by John F Kennedy Catholic School's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from John F Kennedy Catholic School is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Headteacher Paul Neves
Chromebooks supporting
learning in a year 7
Religious Education lesson
Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best
hope for the future.” These are the words of President
John F Kennedy and were the inspiration for the Catholic
comprehensive school, founded in Hemel Hempstead in 1967, that
took his name. For many years, the school has been oversubscribed,
and they have a track record of good examination results. At Key
Stage 4, their Progress 8 score in 2018 was 0.26, and they’ve been
a member of the SSAT Leading Edge Network for the past four
years. To avoid excessive focus on exam results, Catholic schools
were set up to provide a broader education. Headteacher Paul
Neves elaborates upon the school and its manner of operating.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols (now Cardinal) described the purpose of Catholic
schools in 2009, when he said:
[The] true development of the person … is more important than the public
recognition of the success of the school; than the demands of political
pressure; than the requirements of the economy, significant though these
things are.”
With that firmly in mind, JFK has always looked beyond exam results in order to
measure success. The “JFK Journey”, summarised in diagrammatic form, presents
the complete offer made to students from year 7 to year 13. It highlights the
important milestones on students’ academic journeys, but also sets out the myriad
of opportunities designed to support their personal development. A thriving
extracurricular offer sees huge numbers of students involved in sport, music and
drama throughout the school year.
»Headteacher: Mr Paul Neves
»Year founded: 1967
»Location: Hemel Hempstead,
»Type of school: 11-18 Catholic
»No. of students: 1,069
»Extra facts: The school
draws students from Hemel
Hempstead and the Borough
of Dacorum, but also a very
wide area extending to Luton
and south Bedfordshire
John F Kennedy
Catholic School
Highlighting best practice
In addition to extracurricular
opportunities, we are keen to develop
our students’ leadership skills. The
JFK Journey identifies many ways to
achieve this, from “language leaders”
in year 9 and prefects in year 11,
through to house captains in year 13.
Student voice plays an integral part
in school development and is led by
an active school council. In order to
facilitate student leadership, we have
established the “Student Hub” – a
large meeting room where student
ideas can be developed and made
Our mission
The JFK Journey represents the
practical realisation of the school’s
mission. The JFK mission statement is
centred on three words:
»Inspire – we aim to inspire all in
our community to be their best in
a friendly, happy and welcoming
community in which all feel valued.
»Achieve – we aim to draw out
the potential in each person to
the full, including qualifications
that will prepare them for their
next steps in education or
training and opportunities for
»Serve – we aim to encourage our
students to make a difference
by being active members of the
community, ready to give of their
time and showing compassion for
those in need.
Underpinning the whole educational
enterprise is the Catholic essence
of JFK. Under the trusteeship of the
Archdiocese of Westminster, the
school’s duty is to support the mission
of the Catholic church. It therefore
works as an agent of the church
in the local parishes. A concrete
expression of this responsibility is
seen in the role of Leader of Youth
Ministry, who is based in the school
but works in both JFK and the parishes
of Hemel Hempstead. This innovative
appointment enriches the Catholic life
of the school in many ways: supporting
and developing the prayer life of the
school; leading liturgical celebrations
throughout the church’s year; leading
retreats; and overseeing the student
Teaching and learning for the
21st century
Despite the school’s very full
extracurricular life, we do recognise
that teaching and learning are central
A wealth of opportunities
for students’ personal
development is
encapsulated by the
In addition to
we are keen
to develop our
to the work of JFK. Hence, school
development is continually focused on
how to improve the experience of our
students in the classroom and prepare
them for life beyond school.
A major initiative in which we are
currently engaged is our “Google for
Education” strategy. The whole of
year 7 are equipped with their own
personal Chromebooks, which are
being integrated into teaching and
learning day-to-day. Via a suite of
apps and the infrastructure of Google
Classroom, Chromebooks facilitate a
very powerful approach to the retrieval
of information, communication and
collaboration between students and
teachers; delivery of lessons; and
monitoring of progress. The success
with which we have planned and
rolled out this project has been
recognised by others, and we have
provided support for several schools,
including four that have started
their Google for Education journey
following our support. In addition,
we are in the process of becoming a
At JFK, we believe that the key
to success is in forming positive
relationships – as we like to say,
relationships inspired by the gospel:
the teachings of Christ. These ensure
a harmonious working relationship
between staff and students and
a sense of calm purposefulness in
classrooms. As a truly wide-ranging
school, we understand that not all
of our students are going to find
school life easy all of the time. We
therefore pride ourselves on the level
of support provided by the staff. We
have invested heavily in resources to
support our students. Each year group
“achievement leader” is assisted by
a full-time non-teaching assistant,
so there is always someone on hand
to provide support and to develop
relationships with students and
The purpose of education
The work of all schools is guided by
an understanding of the purpose of
education and the end goals that
they are striving to achieve. At JFK,
as a Catholic school, this purpose is
very clear: to enable every student to
find meaning in their life, whatever
their gifts and talents – to help them
to discover the person God created
them to be. Yes, we value academic
qualifications, but they alone do not
define our young people. The future
adult generation needs people with
a strong moral compass and who
see life as an opportunity to serve
the Common Good. Thus, the JFK
Journey “road map” ends with the
signpost quoting from Mark 16:15:
“Go throughout the whole world and
preach the Gospel to all people.”
The whole of
year 7 are
equipped with
their own
which are being
integrated into
teaching and
A ceremonial tree-
planting following our
50th Anniversary Mass,
celebrated by former
JFK student Fr. Brendan

This article was sponsored by John F Kennedy Catholic School. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development