The History of St Joseph’s College
The school was founded by the Christian Brothers in 1932. As a Catholic School we are inspired in our mission by the vision of life that is found in the teaching of the Gospel, the Church and in Jesus who came that we “may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
In striving to fulfil this mission we continue the work of the Christian Brothers and its founder Blessed Edmund Rice. St Joseph’s College seeks to develop the whole person and as a result the pastoral care of our students is of paramount importance.
The Christian Brothers
St Joseph’s College is one of a few hundred Christian Brothers Schools around the world, all of which owe their existence in some way to the work of a man called Edmund Rice in Ireland 200 years ago. As a child Edmund Rice had grown up at a time that many were denied a formal education in Ireland due to their religious background. He was fortunate enough to receive some schooling due to the generosity of a Friar who had befriended his family. Then, as a young man he inherited his uncles’ business, was able to establish a comfortable life for himself and marry.
A series of events in his mid twenties, including the death of his wife and the birth of his child with severe learning difficulties, opened his eyes to the suffering and needs of those on the margins of society. He recognised they were in need of the same education and support which he had been fortunate enough to receive.
Therefore, in 1802 he established a school providing not only schooling but also food, clothes and support through family difficulties for boys living on the streets of Waterford. His work inspired others to join him and commit to this work. This commitment can be seen in their decisions to use their own money – such as the money from Edmunds’ business – to fund their work (enabling them to move into a school house) and to take a vow not to marry, so that they could devote themselves to this work. Out of this commitment was born the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Within the next 25 years, in spite of much opposition, they had set up more than 25 schools in Ireland and in England.
In the 200 years since Edmund set up his first school, the Christian Brothers have travelled throughout the world looking for those on the margins of society living in poverty without education or support. Their schools throughout Australasia, India, South America and Africa are evidence of this history. The English Province has especially extended its work into West Africa, and St Joseph’s itself is twinned with Bishop Carroll High School in Liberia. We are now developing links with Sierra Leone and year 13 pupils have the opportunity to apply for places on the Sierra Leone Experience.
Pupils at St Joseph’s College today are given the opportunity and encouraged to share in the vision and work of Edmund Rice. As one person has put it, their mission is to be like the “brave, radical, non conformist, social justice activist” that Edmund was. Many who have passed thorough this school have involved themselves in fundraising, community service, assisting children at local Primary Schools, summer time schemes with children from the inner cities of Liverpool, Dublin and children with severe special needs. We hope that in “educating the whole person” we are not only providing for pupils of St Joseph’s all that Edmund set out to provide in terms of a caring, nurturing, stimulating environment but also an awareness of the needs of those whose lives are in some way poorer than their own and what they can themselves do for them.
The motto of Edmund Rice remains as relevant to the staff and pupils of St Joseph’s college today as it did 200 years ago in Waterford – “Give to the poor in armfuls.” Further information about the Christian Brothers Schools and work in England and West Africa can be found at edmundrice.net
Of our students achieved 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics in 2017.
Of our A2 students pass their courses with 62% achieving A* to B grades.
Many of our A2 students go on to the most demanding university courses, with 35% going on to Russell Group universities.
St. Joseph’s College is delighted to have maintained its ‘Outstanding’ status at its most recent Ofsted inspection in 2014.