Value-Based and Outcome-Oriented Education Interventions in England: A Case Study of the Jesuit Pupil Profile Program

By: Kartikeya Uniyal (SFS'23)

March 20, 2024

This research explores the impact of Jesuit values at three public and four private Jesuit schools in England. Interviews with teachers, administrators, and parents reveal the complexities of balancing social justice, character development through value-based education interventions, and financial stability at Jesuit schools across England. The research specifically focuses on the Jesuit Pupil Profile, a value-oriented educational program aimed at building well-rounded and active students.

London Bridge

The Jesuit Pupil Profile and St. John’s Beaumont

After its original founding for English Catholics in St. Omer, France, Stonyhurst College relocated to Lancashire, England, in 1794, remaining the “oldest continuously existing Jesuit school in the world.” In May 2022, I was able to visit Stonyhurst and six other Jesuit schools in England to observe how they continue the tradition of educating for the “common good.” Over the last 50 years, the landscape of Jesuit education in England has changed significantly. With the declining membership of the Society of Jesus, there are not enough Jesuits to meet the needs of administering a modern school system, and schools have had to transfer responsibilities to laypeople. Had I visited the same schools 50 years ago, all the head teachers and chaplains would have been Jesuits. None of the current head teachers are Jesuits, and only two schools have Jesuit chaplains.

Jesuit Schools in England. An aerial video tour of all schools researched to show the geographical distribution; created using Google Earth.

In 1995, the Jesuits published the Jesuit Leavers Profile (JLP), a list of graduate attributes to help students understand the purpose of their education. In order to more actively promote the JLP in school life, the Jesuits adopted a strategy of integrating these virtues and values more visibly into school curriculum. In 2013, the British Jesuit Province launched the Jesuit Pupil Profile (JPP) based on the JLP. According to Wimbledon College’s website, “it [JPP] identifies the qualities that schools seek to develop in their pupils,” using keywords that illustrate St. Ignatius’ own stated aim of “improvement in living and learning for the greater glory of God and the common good.” In its current form, the JPP is a set of 14 virtues used to design the learning environment and define educational outcomes.

My primary research site was St. John’s Beaumont (SJB), an independent day-boarding preparatory school for boys 3 to 13 years old. After spending 14 days at SJB, I visited six other schools and met representatives from the Jesuit Institute to understand the purpose of value-based learning interventions, such as the JPP, and observe their implementation in schools. In principle, the JPP makes education unique by articulating the values and virtues a Jesuit education seeks to build in its students and making it an integral part of their educational experience.

Entrance to St. John's Beaumont (Source: Kartikeya Uniyal's personal collection)
Entrance to St. John's Beaumont (Source: Kartikeya Uniyal's personal collection)

Jesuit Education in England

The Jesuits run 11 schools in the United Kingdom. I visited seven and interviewed people from eight of the nine schools in England. One of the main differences between them is their status: independent schools are fee-paying schools that are only accessible to 6% of the United Kingdom’s school-going population and are exempt from following the general national curriculum. State-funded faith-based schools, on the other hand, receive public funds and need to follow the national curriculum, though they can develop their own religious curriculum.

At independent preparatory schools, at the end of either Year 6 or 7, students study for Common Pre-Tests for admissions to senior schools. The ability of preparatory schools to prepare students for prestigious destination schools is an essential component of a school’s prospectus. The Common Entrance (CE) and Common Academic Scholarship (CASE) tests offer students another opportunity to secure admissions to senior schools at the end of Year 8. These tests are extremely high stakes as they determine further educational opportunities for students and are given high priority by parents, teachers, and administrators. For example, most students at SJB aim for highly ranked independent senior schools like Eton College and Harrow School with annual fees upward of 30,000 British pounds.

The circumstances of learning and outcomes of education differ across locations and the types of schools. While independent schools in the south of England like Donhead Preparatory School and SJB prioritize admissions to highly ranked senior schools, independent preparatory schools in the north of England send most of their students to Jesuit partner schools in the region. For example, Barlborough Hall School sends most of its students to the adjacent Mount St. Mary’s College, and St. Mary’s Hall serves as the feeder school for Stonyhurst College. This shifts the focus of learning from preparation for pre-tests to a more structured curriculum designed independently by the school. Schools in the north are also co-educational, primarily because of the lower demand for school education in the area.

State-funded schools, on the other hand, follow the national curriculum and cater to the vast majority of students who cannot afford private education. These schools have a higher student population and a less flexible curriculum, mainly working with underserved populations. Wimbledon College is a state-run school in one of London’s most financially developed districts that, historically, got most of its students from the adjacent Donhead Preparatory School. As one of the head teachers mentioned, parents were primarily politically motivated to send their children from private preparatory schools to a state-run public school to emphasize the importance of equitable education (interview with a head teacher, April 19, 2022). Over the last 20 years, this trend has changed as most students at Donhead now aim for private secondary schools.

This table includes information about all the Jesuit schools across England that implement the Jesuit Pupil Profile, including name, location, age range of students, funding status, gender demographics, and service level.
School Location Ages Status Gender Service
St. John’s Beaumont Old Windsor, London 3-13 Independent Preparatory Boys only Day-boarding
Donhead Preparatory School Wimbledon, London 4-11 Independent Preparatory Boys only Day
Wimbledon College Wimbledon, London 11-19 State-funded: Government-maintained, voluntary-aided Boys only Day
Stonyhurst College Lancashire 3-19 Independent Private Co-educational Day-boarding
St. Joseph’s Primary School Lancashire 5-11 State-funded: Government-maintained, voluntary-aided Co-educational Day
Barlborough Hall School Sheffield 3-11 Independent Preparatory Co-educational Day
Mount St. Mary’s College Sheffield 3-18 Independent Private Co-educational Day-boarding
St. Ignatius College Enfield, London 11-18 State-funded: Voluntary-aided Co-educational Day

Jesuit schools have different motivations, expectations, and modes of operation based on both their location in either the south or north of England and their status as public or private schools. The Jesuit Institute had an expansive vision while designing the JPP, and all schools share a common understanding of its significance and relevance. The implementation of it, however, differs based on their categorization and school mission. Although the JPP is embedded in the core ethos of all schools, various stakeholders—such as parents, teachers, and students—approach it differently, necessitating a balance between the stakeholder expectations and the purpose of the JPP.

The Jesuit Pupil Profile’s Value Orientation and Purpose

A word cloud of the JPP virtues on the front wall at St. John’s Beaumont. (Source: Kartikeya Uniyal)
A word cloud of the JPP virtues on the front wall at St. John’s Beaumont. (Source: Kartikeya Uniyal)

The changing religious demographics of Catholic schools demanded the creation of a secular vocabulary that was relatable to all students. Giles Delaney, the former headmaster of St. John’s Beaumont, stated:

“It was written deliberately in a way that could appeal to other religions. It wasn't exclusively what the gospel values were there. It wasn't exclusively a Christian model. But I think what it didn't have was a clear routine in Christian theology and the life of Christ.” (interview, April 9, 2022)

The JPP was launched in 2013 across all schools, but its implementation has constantly been evolving. Teachers and administrators who have been at their schools since 2013 agreed that in the initial years, there was a sense of ambiguity around the concept and its relevance.

The JPP, beyond its aim of describing the process of Jesuit education, focuses on building character, creating unique individuals, and delivering a holistic curriculum that goes beyond traditional models of teaching and learning. At SJB, the JPP is used as a starting point for all school-related activities. Former Headmaster Delaney said that “there’s no point in being an outstanding mathematician or scientist, or musician, or sportsman if the habits you’ve created that are prevalent in the Jesuit People Profile aren’t already also an integral part of who you are. So what we’re trying to do is: Aristotle was once asked—How do you be good? And his answer was, ‘Be good.’ In other words, what we are trying to do is remind the boys of the need to be generous or grateful, or discerning, or attentive, but also trying to distill what are the actions that underpin those values,” (interview, April 9, 2022).

Every Jesuit school is given a set of two virtues for every term. These values are then implemented in curriculum, assemblies, co-curricular activities, and the house system. The JPP, therefore, seeks to achieve two main aims: “number one, that they have a sense of faith in God and a God of love, and in Jesus Christ and his teachings. I think, in other words, the beginnings of a person of faith, and the other is that they have an altruistic attitude in life, that they see themselves with talents and gifts that they can put at the service of others and the least in society above all” (interview with a Jesuit school administrator, April 13, 2022).

The JPP is physically visible throughout all schools: there are large posters in most classrooms and hallways. The administrators and teachers focus on student formation, share a common understanding of “educating the whole person,” and create an environment that fosters learning beyond the classroom. The values of the term at the time of my visit were “attentive and discerning.” At SJB, the JPP was used by some teachers in their lesson plans and learning goals for every class. 

Their house system is also designed around the JPP, which makes its virtues more actionable and gives the students added motivation. SJB students are divided into three houses that make up the TYE animal system: tigers (T), yaks (Y), and emus (E). Each student is given a TYE card where they can record points received for living out the JPP values. When I was in a religious education class, a student received points for being “active and curious” when they asked a question about Jesus’ crucifixion. The TYE scores of all students are collated at the end of each week by teachers assigned to each group. At the end of the year, the animal group with the highest points wins the TYE competition. 

Similar interventions were designed by each school to actualize the goals of the JPP. Through the TYE points system, students are recognized for their achievements in living up to the goals of the JPP.

“They’re not being rewarded for being good. They’re being rewarded for a specific skill that we recognize what we would like from our boys. So in rugby, it might be that they really encouraged their team and they were, even though their team lost, they were really positive towards the boys and their group. And somebody's recognized that, and that might be that they have a TYE for maybe for being intentional or being for, being for loving or something—that is that we highlight” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 18, 2022).

Kartikeya playing table tennis with pupils at St. John’s Beaumont. (Source: Kartikeya Uniyal)
Kartikeya playing table tennis with pupils at St. John’s Beaumont. (Source: Kartikeya Uniyal)

Variations in Implementation: How Schools Approach the JPP Based on Their Location (North/South) and Status (Public/Private)

All schools autonomously decide how to integrate the JPP into their curriculum and experience. Private schools in the south attempt to balance the goals of the JPP with their own aims of sending students to the highest-ranked secondary schools. In contrast, public schools in the south seek to integrate its vision into all aspects of school life and provide holistic education to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Attitudes toward education in the north are more focused on co-curricular learning elements, as most students do not take competitive examinations for secondary schools. Therefore, schools in the north share a common vision where the JPP acts as a tool to develop students’ capacities beyond academic achievement.

Students at private preparatory schools in the south are burdened by high expectations from parents and administrators to secure admissions at the top schools in England. At SJB, some teachers find the TYE system less effective for older boys, as “the pressure’s on them at that point, whether it be academic or getting into their next school. That takes a central focus as opposed to maybe collecting as many TYEs as you would” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 18, 2022). In London, a major metropolis full of ambition and drive, education adopts a purpose beyond formation. Jesuit schools find themselves in a compromising position between the holistic goals of a Jesuit education and the expectations of parents. The JPP allows the schools to present themselves as a style of education that goes beyond traditional methods and expectations. A headmaster from one of the Jesuit schools in London said,

“The challenge is that when parents join the school, my job as the leader is to highlight to them this is important and this is what makes us different. And if it doesn’t resonate with you as a family, we’re probably not the school for you. And I’m not, I don’t take that personally. I’m not upset by that, but you are coming to a school that values this as much as the schools they’ll get into; that’s not more important. And I think the challenge for us is understanding parents, making decisions that fit with their beliefs, as opposed to thinking that’s a stepping stone to there because we are a stepping stone to other places, but not at the expense of those virtues. They’re in everything we do. And if you don’t, if you don’t like that, if you want him to do more math than JPP time, don’t come to a Jesuit school” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 12, 2022).

At public schools in the south, the JPP is used as a tool for designing the educational experience of students. Compared to the same area’s preparatory schools, students learn in a less intense environment without the burden of preparing for the Common Entrance Test, remaining at the same school or moving to the public school in their area for secondary education. Public schools do not face the enrollment and financial challenges of private schools, as they are supported by the government. 

At Wimbledon College, in addition to an academic assessment report, the school produces a JPP report for each student that evaluates students based on their character and classifies all sets of virtues under three categories: emerging, developing, and embodying. Teachers record the positive behaviors of students anonymously and the students get a report of their “virtues” at the end of the term. This data-driven approach gives both the students and the parents a better understanding of the JPP.

The JPP is also used as an interpretive tool during co-curricular activities like retreats. At St. Ignatius College, retreats are “all about the stories in the life of Jesus and the students create little dramas, all about the number of different stories of Jesus. We watch the dramas and then we analyze them using the Jesuit Pupil Profile. We say, what virtues with Jesus or one of the other characters in the story [were] showing? What strengths they’re showing or what was lacking in some of the other characters? What could have made the story different if some of the other characters had used some of these other virtues?” (interview with a teacher at St. Ignatius College, April 25, 2022). 

St. Joseph’s, the primary school in the north, adopted a similar approach, where the JPP was a part of both the curriculum and the house system. House points are recorded in the assembly hall, and the school teddy bear wears the colors of the winning house—very different from other private schools for kids in the same age group, where the winning team would either get a prize or an outing.

The assembly hall at St. Joseph’s Primary School with student art on Christian saints and the school teddy bear.
The assembly hall at St. Joseph’s Primary School with student art on Christian saints and the school teddy bear.

Stonyhurst College in the north has its own way of integrating the JPP into its educational experiences. In most schools, the lay chaplain designs strategies for implementing the JPP. At Stonyhurst, the equivalent of the lay chaplain is the director of Christian formation. The school makes it clear that students “are coming to experience a Catholic education, and therefore the point of choosing to fully engage with that happens at the point of deciding to become a pupil at the college. So, regardless of personal religious belief, every child has exactly the same experience of attending all the prayer and worship at the college” (interview with an administrator at Stonyhurst College, April 23, 2022). 

The school recognizes differences in faith and designs its religious experience to accommodate differences. For instance, according to the administrator at Stonyhurst, “In previous years, one of our Muslim pupils felt that they were unable to kneel at certain parts of our Mass, and we were able to work with them so that they did not have to kneel and they were happy to attend the Mass” (interview, April 23, 2022). 

This sets the school apart from its pronounced Christian identity. Stonyhurst, the oldest and most resource-rich Jesuit school, can make its interventions more comprehensive and effective. As such, in 2018, students from the school worked with “the prep school St. Joseph’s, the Anglican parish, the Catholic parish, and just residents of the local community” to resettle a Syrian refugee family that still lives in the area (interview with an administrator at Stonyhurst College, April 23, 2022).

A side view of the Stonyhurst College’s Grade I listed building.
A side view of the Stonyhurst College’s Grade I listed building.

Most students from Barlborough Hall go on to Mount St. Mary’s College (MSM). Therefore, despite being a private preparatory school, students at Barlborough Hall have an entirely different experience compared to private school students in the south. The transition from primary to secondary school is challenging, but these students find the process easier because of the JPP. At Barlborough Hall, there’s a decorative JPP tree that lists all the sets of virtues. When students embody these virtues, staff members put students’ names on leaves which are then given out during assemblies. These leaves are now a big part of the school, and students look forward to receiving them.

The JPP also helps teachers discuss complex topics. For instance, if someone “led a very good life, you know, all the way through the life, but the last minute does something bad and they’re not sorry for it. Should they go to heaven?” (interview with an administrator at Mount St. Mary’s College, April 24, 2022). Going to Mount St. Mary’s after being exposed to the Jesuit style of education at Barlborough Hall brings familiarity to students; however, “there’s more work to be done here [at MSM]. This feels like mission territory, where around 25 to 26% are Catholic. Of those, the number who practice, I guess, is even lower. So that’s the challenge, trying to show those who don’t believe that God loves them in a very gentle, accessible way” (interview, April 24, 2022). The school understands that “proposing rather than imposing is really important. Retreats are really nice where holding an Ignatian retreat and creating activities and drama activities and scenarios,” (interview with an administrator at MSM, April 24, 2022) brings in elements of Ignatian pedagogy, especially experience and reflection.

The Meaning and Relevance of the JPP for Primary Stakeholders: Staff, Parents, Administrators, and Students

The JPP is “somewhere within this virtuous triangle of pupils, teachers, and parents” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 30, 2022). The approaches of these three stakeholders, school administrators, and the Jesuit Institute determine the implementation and effectiveness of the JPP. Staff and teachers have the primary responsibility of delivering the JPP to the students through their interactions inside and outside the classroom. 

Staff well-being, therefore, is instrumental for an authentic delivery of the JPP because “if the staff that you employ can’t embody the values of the JPP and they’re not allowed to demonstrate that or find it difficult to demonstrate that, or don’t have that in themselves, then again, it breaks down because then it just becomes rhetoric, it doesn’t become action. And in my experience, the most powerful thing is action” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 12, 2022). Many staff members at SJB did not feel staff well-being was prioritized by the administration. One long-serving teacher said, “Staff well-being, I don’t think, I don’t think that’s at the heart of a lot of what happens. I think a lot of it is pushing people to do more and more. And then there’s been a lot of staff turnover here over the years” (interview, April 18, 2022).

“Now London is very cosmopolitan. It’s very big. It’s very cutthroat. You’ve gotta be a real go-getter, you’ve gotta have a lot of energy and I think that modern-day trappings, the material wealth, the modern world we live in, it’s particularly in Americanism and a U.K.-Western thing is we’ve switched from the collective to the individual—‘I, me, myself,’ ‘I’m most important,’ ‘I need this,’ ‘Now, this is my right.’ And I think when you look at all that, that’s focusing on the materialistic and the individual saying. Ignatius and the Jesuit teaching is saying, yes, the individual’s important, but the individual is important as a person who serves others.” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 12, 2022)

Comparatively, people in the north have a different approach to education and life. Expectations from students are less about achievement and more about formation and development, by design. In my interactions with students in the south, many talked about how expectations of personal achievement make them nervous. Conversely, a student focus group in one of the schools in the north talked about how they get nervous about not setting the right example for the younger students at their schools.

Many teachers at SJB felt the school found it challenging to navigate between the two countering narratives: parental push for individual success through admissions to highly ranked secondary schools and the JPP’s focus on the growth of each individual through community development. SJB’s extraordinary outcomes in terms of admissions to the next schools make it an attractive option for parents who might not necessarily buy into the Jesuit mission of the school. As one teacher explained, “I sometimes think that this is a high-achieving school. There are lots of opportunities here; they go onto some of the most prestigious schools. And I sometimes think that that’s a little bit too materialistic. And sometimes the focus is on that rather than the real ethos. And so it benefits them to give lip service to the ethos because they’re wanting the other benefit of coming out of the school” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 12, 2022).

Parents of students also experience this tension. A parent I interviewed at one of the Jesuit schools said, “When I first heard about the JPP, I loved the idea of it, but I found it very abstract, so it was difficult for me. It was full of content. It had lots of content and it was difficult for me to process as a whole, but funnily enough, my children have got the values really integrated at least in theory in their minds” (interview with a parent at SJB, April 17, 2022). They did, however, mention that some parents pressure their children to strive for individual achievements, sometimes undermining JPP values. I attended a verse-speaking competition at SJB judged by a teacher from Eton College. At the end of the event, I saw two boys who were good friends with the winner crying because they did not win. The boys, sometimes, are stuck between the impulses of self-achievement and the value of community development.

SJB Verse Speaking 2022 - Seniors' Winner: Corey H reciting 'Sonnet 108'. The SJB senior’s verse-speaking winner recites “Sonnet 108” inside the school chapel.

Many factors affect the way stakeholders approach the JPP. Students, for example, have different experiences based on their status at school. Boarding students are more exposed to the JPP as the residential experience is centered around community building and personal development. The boarders at SJB spend a lot of time together after school. They have additional play time, group dinners every day, and special events like film or sports screenings. I was also able to accompany the boys on a day trip in London called “Race Across the Capital” where they had to use public transportation and visit various spots across London.

The experience gave students familiarity with society outside their elite preparatory school. A defining experience was when I saw two students stop and look at a homeless man at the tube station, who later asked me why he was sleeping there. Students at SJB and other elite private schools come from a privileged socioeconomic position. The school’s curriculum and the JPP work towards making their education more relevant to the world. One teacher mentioned how “we do tend to give them examples and show them examples of lots of areas of the world, different parts of the world, four miles down the road where children haven’t got enough food to eat—some very local areas that are worlds away from where we are set at the moment” (interview with a teacher at SJB, April 11, 2022).

Race Across the Capital. Running in Central London with the boarders at SJB in their “Race Across the Capital”


The JPP serves as an important educational intervention that shifts the goals of learning beyond academic achievement, prioritizing the students’ holistic development. It helps overcome the focus of our society on individual achievement to develop an approach that emphasizes collective progress. Across the various implementations and understandings of the JPP, there is a common theme of responsibility and accountability. Students are expected to be exemplars of virtuous living in a world that faces many challenges. All the schools I visited centered their learning experiences around the Jesuit values of “people for others” and constant self-reflection. Students are continuously encouraged to think critically about their actions through the examen, an Ignatian practice in all schools whereby they think about the motivations for and consequences of their decisions. These measures are successful in creating awareness about the societal responsibility of all students who have been able to access quality education.

The aspirational goals of the JPP, however, are burdened by various realities of today’s society. Thus, the students are affected by the mechanisms set in place by their respective schools. Private Jesuit schools live up to the exceptional purpose of delivering a holistic education but are limited to students who have the purchasing power to afford expensive education and burden them with the expectation of securing admissions in high-ranking institutions. Public schools, on the other hand, are limited in delivering the most authentic version of the JPP by structural challenges such as large class sizes and low funding. If a school does not prioritize teacher well-being, students are unable to receive appropriate attention, especially in aspects of the JPP that are considered secondary to academic goals. If there is pressure on students to perform well individually, they are unable to grasp the benefits of JPP’s focus on community development. Schools, therefore, have the primary responsibility to make their goals—especially the ones related to the JPP— explicit and design mechanisms that reduce the impact of external forces in undermining the JPP’s purpose.

The views expressed in this student research are those of the author(s) and not of the Berkley Center or Georgetown University.

Featured Person: Kartikeya Uniyal Person