Education for Personal Relationships: Policy Documents and Guiding Principles for Lancaster Diocese Primary Schools
The Diocese of Lancaster Education Service proposes the following Guiding Principles for schools in the Diocese for Education for Personal Relationships. These principles are the essential context for a Catholic school’s Education for Personal Relationships policy. A policy, designed as a model for primary schools to adopt, follows below. The guiding principles and the policy are complementary and should not be read in isolation. (Please note: When this document makes reference to parents it should be taken to include carers as appropriate).
We are created in God’s image. Human nature is further uplifted because the Son of God became one of us. Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. We have an innate dignity which demands that we seek goodness, and commands the respect of others and towards others.
Human sexuality is a holy mystery. It is part of the identity of each person as man or as woman. Human sexuality is an expression of the physical and spiritual difference between a man and a woman, and that they are complementary. This is part of God’s plan for human love and marriage. Our sexual nature is good. It is in marriage that our sexuality finds the environment for its fullest expression.
Marriage is rooted in the covenant which a man and a woman make when they give themselves in love to each other for the whole of their lives. This is a lasting relationship which is described by the Church as a ‘marriage covenant of conjugal love’. In this covenant of love the two people give mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their persons and actions. Loving self-giving expressed through sexual intimacy is designed to allow married couples to share by procreation in the creative work of God.
Human nature is damaged by our mistakes that come about through selfishness. This leads to suffering and can harm our relationships with God and with others. God is our loving Father and through His Son, Jesus, He heals our brokenness and brings us back to Himself.
In Jesus Christ, God restores all things. He saves us from sin and teaches us the way to live full lives. Through our relationship with God, Father, Son and Spirit, our human relationships are enhanced. In loving and caring relationships we can develop a deeper understanding of the love of God for us. As part of the new covenant between God and mankind, Jesus Christ restated the vision of marriage as a life-long exclusive union of man and woman. (Mark 10, 2-12).
We are all called by God our Father to come into His presence and share in His life and joy. Sometimes we find it difficult to follow God’s ways but He always encourages us, forgives us and helps us on our way. We too must not condemn others but encourage them and help them to respond to God’s call. This will sometimes mean being sorry for when we have done wrong.
(a) As a community we seek to put God first in all things.
(b) The leadership and management of the school will ensure that the school seeks to remain faithful to authoritative Catholic teaching of Christian doctrine in all things.
(c) The governors of a Catholic school of the Lancaster Diocese ensure that the school acts in fulfilment of the Trust Deed of the Diocese of Lancaster.
(d) Loving relationships between people and God, and among mankind, are promoted in the school. Thus we promote peace, justice and the coming of God’s kingdom. These loving relationships are in harmony with natural and divine law and flow from practice of the virtues. (The virtues: faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance; the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.)
(e) The sacramental nature of Christian marriage is recognised and taught in the school.
(f) The Church’s teaching about the dignity and purpose of marriage is recognised and taught in the school. Therefore, the school teaches that marriage is the proper and only context for sexual union and raising children. The purpose of sex within marriage is to express the mutual love and affection of the couple and for procreation.
(g) As part of the school’s striving to promote virtuous living chastity is recognised and encouraged as an aspect of self-awareness and self-control that contributes to growth into full human maturity. Chastity involves continence for those who are single, whether unmarried, separated, divorced, widowed or committed to celibacy, and faithful monogamy for the married.
(h) The primacy of the role of parents in the education of their own children is recognised, and that the role of the school is subsidiary to that of the parents:
“Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; … Parents have the right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions, … ; they should also receive from society the necessary aid and assistance to perform their educational role properly,” and:
“In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents and must always be carried out under their close supervision, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them.”
(Charter of the Rights of the Family, 1983, Articles 5, 5a, 5c. Cf. Code of Canon Law, 793, 1136).
(i) The governors and senior leadership of the school recognise that some aspects of sexuality are best treated on an individual basis for each child and ideally as part of an ongoing parental relationship of friendship and trust.
(j) The leadership of the school emphasise that pastoral sensitivity and compassion is required for the cultural and family context in which a child lives. It is recognised that the school works within a society with a wide range of family contexts. The school welcomes everyone with a spirit of openness and love. This sensitivity and compassion will include an appreciation of when the truth of the Gospel must prevail over culture. There may be a need to stand against the prevailing secular and permissive culture, and to protect children from lessons in human sexuality which are explicit, premature or misleading.
(k) The leadership and management of the school seek consistent application of these principles across the whole curriculum and from all staff. This includes partnerships with other agencies.
(a) An approach to human life which promotes joy and wonder at the birth of a baby seeking to offer support and assistance, and does not regard the birth of a child as a threat.
(b) All that is worthy in relationships such as respect, honesty, generosity, kindness, gentleness etc and rejects abuse, exploitation etc.
(c) A moral system which affirms the objective reality of good and evil, and rejects such systems which emphasise absolute personal autonomy, individual conscience, relativism or the pursuit of pleasure.
(d) The positive presentation and encouragement to live modestly by respecting the dignity of oneself and others, especially with regard to our sexuality, and chastely, by guiding our sexuality through personal choices which are life-long, responsible, mature and recognise that sexual intimacy is for the purpose of love and new life within marriage.
(e) Respect for the child’s sense of delicacy and privacy concerning sexual matters.
(f) Marriage as the equal union of a man and a woman, who love each other and commit to each other before God and the community. Marriage is the place for the sexual expression of loving intimacy open to life. Christian marriage expresses the truth about married love and can serve as a prophecy which proclaims a human being’s real needs: that a man and a woman are called upon from the beginning to live in a communion of life and love, and that this communion leads to a strengthening of the dignity of the spouses, the good of the children and of society itself.
(g) The sanctity of human life, and rejects the condoning of abortion and all acts which end innocent human life.
(h) An approach to human sexuality which confers on the sexual expression of loving intimacy its proper dignity and understanding as a profound sign of the covenant of love between a man and a woman. This positive approach excludes anything which risks reducing the understanding of sex to the level of a mere bodily function or biological process.
Only external agencies which support the school’s ethos will be used, in order to fulfil the school’s duty to parents and their children, and the Church. The governors and leadership of the school ensure that all programmes and presentations are in accordance with the aims and objectives of Catholic Church teaching as outlined above.
God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion as Father and Son and Holy Spirit. God created the human race in his own image. He inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation of love and communion.
Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and bring children into the world, and, in a more general way, the ability to form bonds of communion with others.
This policy aspires to express the practical consequences of what the Church teaches about humanity made in God’s image, and about sexuality as God’s gift.
(a) This policy responds to the requirements of the Education Act 1993, 241(5) for schools to formulate and keep updated a policy on Sex and Relationships Education.
(b) This policy statement is to be read in the context of whole document including the Guiding Principles. Schedules (A) to (D) form part of the policy. It is underpinned by the School Mission Statement.
(c) Education for Personal Relationships is defined as all the activities in school involving children which helps to form the way they interact with others, and their appreciation of human sexuality as described above (Sexuality – a mystery of the person).
(d) The This is my body programme is the Education for Personal Relationships programme specified by the Diocese of Lancaster for use in Primary Schools. It may be enriched with other resources which conform to the visions and principles expressed in this document.
(e) Delivery of the course is the responsibility of those designated by the headteacher and trained accordingly.
(f) The monitoring and evaluation of the course reflects the aims and principles inherent in it: hence an important concern is the satisfaction of parents with both its appropriateness and its impact on their children.
(a) Education in relationships, and especially in sexual relations, is the right and duty of the parents of each individual child. The school provision of Education in Personal Relationships is therefore offered as a service to assist parents, and is not intended to replace the role of parents in this area. The Church teaches very clearly that the school’s role is subsidiary to the parents’ role in this matter. This means that the parents are the first educators of their children and that the parents enter into partnership with others whom they trust (in this case the Catholic school) to assist and enable them to carry out their responsibilities.
(b) Such assistance in the field of education for personal relationships will be clearly set in the framework of Catholic Church teaching and delivered in partnership with parents.
(c) As a caring Catholic school, our role is to nurture the development of the whole person. The ability to form caring, happy, strong, healthy, stable relationships is fostered in many different areas of the curriculum and includes aspects of character such as self-esteem, confidence and responsibility, and fundamentally an understanding of oneself as a unique and beautiful part of God’s creation.
(d) The school seeks to help children to reflect on the different roles and demands of family relationships. It is in the family that children first experience affection, respect, arguments, saying sorry, forgiveness and other ways of relating to others.
(e) Education for Personal Relationships as provided in this school will seek to build on the child’s own experience, sensitive to the varied home background of individual pupils.
The programme aims:
Virtue is having a nature to do well. People have the gift of free will. The Catholic school helps children to understand the place of free will in their lives and that they are guided by the gifts of the Holy Spirit towards virtuous living. This helps them to deepen their relationship with God and the nature of their relationships with other people. This will enable them to understand that through the exercise of their consciences they assume responsibility for their actions: ‘Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1810).
(a) Chastity: Education in Personal Relationships in the school will uphold a positive approach to chastity and help young people to understand their right to choose a different way of conducting their relationships to the pervading secular culture to which they are exposed in everyday life. Young people can and do exercise self-control and they deserve encouragement and support to act positively for their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being as they approach adulthood and begin to understand the centrality of love and mutual respect in relationships.
(b) Modesty: Modesty enables a person to preserve their dignity and sense of self-worth. Modesty is about protecting something which is precious: our sexuality, which is something not to be flaunted or cheapened on the one hand nor denied or rejected on the other. Modesty is about looking at others with the dignity that everyone deserves. It offers respect for others and oneself and decency in the best sense of these words. Any presentation of inappropriate material that contradicts this principle, even for the purpose of demonstration or criticism, is excluded.
(c) Sensitivity: Sensitivity must always be shown to children and young people in their own experience and sense of identity. Some aspects of sexuality are best treated individually and ideally by parents. If a child raises matters too sensitive to be addressed in a class setting teachers and schools will seek to work in partnership with parents in understanding and addressing these issues.
(d) Age appropriate teaching: All information presented will be appropriate to the pupils’ developmental stage. Indirect sex education will occur during the latency period (from around 5 years to the onset of puberty). The use of programmes of study to support this phase should be discussed with the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service.
The purpose of a Catholic school is to create for the whole school community an atmosphere animated by the Gospel spirit of charity and freedom, in which students are nurtured as they grow and mature. The vision of the Catholic Church is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Gospels. In the spirit of these teachings which promote life, love and family, we will reject teaching about:
(a) This policy also applies to all teaching and learning resources, such as DVDs, websites, written material, graphics etc.
(b) This policy applies equally to any visiting speaker or specialist advisor, off-site activity or visit arranged by the school. The acceptance of this policy will be secured in advance from the individual(s) involved, and any presentation/ material will be monitored to ensure that it complies.
“Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents” (The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, Pontifical Council for the Family, 1995, citing Pope John-Paul II).
We recognise parents as the first educators of their children. This is their right and duty, and flows from their natural relationship to one another and to their children. We recognise that parents sometimes express difficulty in discussing sex and relationships with their children. The school seeks to support, and not replace them in this situation. Support, understanding and advice will be offered to parents to deal with sensitive issues they may need to address.
(a) The school will provide in advance full information to parents and opportunities for consultation and involvement in the Education for Personal Relationships programme (see role of headteacher, below).
(b) Parents are entitled to withdraw their child from any or all sessions of the programme for any reason. Alternative supervision will be made in school. Parents must inform the school in writing in advance if they intend to withdraw their child.
Guided and inspired by the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, we hold that the human person is a spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical unity. All education must be of the whole person. This Catholic school is part of a family of schools and parishes, and is established in order that the education of the children in this school can be taught as an integral part of the Catholic Faith.
It is part of the duty of the Bishop of the Diocese of Lancaster under the Law of the Church (CIC 796-806) to watch over and inspect the Catholic schools in his area and to ensure that the formation and education provided in such schools are based on the principles of Catholic doctrine.
It is also the duty of the Bishop and Trustees of the Diocese under Charity Law to ensure that the schools of the Diocese act in accord with the Trust Deed of the Diocese.
The Trust Deed of the Diocese of Lancaster states that, with respect to schools of the Lancaster Diocese, the Trust applies to:
(a) The provision, maintenance and upkeep of schools and colleges for the general education both religious and secular or religious or secular of children and young persons members of the said Church;
(b) The religious doctrines and practices to be taught and observed in any such school shall in all respects be according to the principles and subject to the regulations and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Foundation Governors of Catholic schools are appointed by the Bishop in order to promote and safeguard the Catholic character of the school.
(a) The governors of this Catholic school of the Lancaster Diocese acknowledge and intend to promote the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church in the fulfilment of their ecclesial and statutory duties, for the benefit of the children in their care.
(b) They recognise that the parents have the primary responsibility for the education of their children, and that parents have special rights and duties over education for personal relationships.
(c) The governors intend to comply with statutory requirements.
(a) The headteacher has overall responsibility for implementing the Education for Personal Relationships programme and its integration into the school’s curriculum and ethos.
(b) Headteachers have particular duty to respect and support the primary role of parents in this field.
(c) The headteacher may appoint a Coordinator for Education in Human Sexuality (CEHS) – a suitable person appropriately trained. The headteacher or delegated senior person will ensure that any discussion or treatment of sexuality in the school curriculum is consistent with Catholic teaching. They will assist colleagues to acquire and present up-to-date knowledge of the vision and teaching of the Catholic Church in this field.
(d) The headteacher or delegated senior person will provide parents with full information about the proposed Education for Personal Relationships programme before it is initiated, and will obtain parental consent in respect of each child before the child is allowed to participate in the programme. Opportunities for consultation and involvement will also be offered.
(a) Teachers and all those contributing to Education for Personal Relationships are expected to work within the values framework as described in this policy document, in line with the school’s ethos.
(b) Appropriate development and training facilitated by the Diocese will be undertaken. It will accord fully with the approach of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (Pontifical Council for the Family, 1995) and take into account current statutory requirements.
(a) Any education for personal relationships provision will be based in-school or in a diocesan approved centre to maintain the closest link with parents. The Bishop’s prior approval secured through the Diocesan Education Service will be obtained for alternative off-site provision.
(b) It is the intention that, in those circumstances where any person from outside the school is to talk to an individual pupil or group of pupils about education for personal relationships, such persons will do so within the principles and guidelines of this policy with particular concern for the primary role of the parents of the child in this area.
The content and delivery of Education for Personal Relationships should be in line with the Catholic ethos of the school and the Church’s teaching on human sexuality.
The This is My Body programme is used in the school, in Year 6, to fulfil this obligation alongside the wider curriculum. Children are taught:
(a) Any Education for Personal Relationships provision will be delivered to the highest attainable teaching standards, including excellence of resources and methodology.
(b) There will be proper regard to subsidiarity – and the roles and duties of various parties, as described in Schedule (A).
(c) Parental consent for Education for Personal Relationships will be obtained and sensitive provision made for any child not participating in all or any sessions for any reason.
(d) Since Education for Personal Relationships includes aspects of factual, spiritual, physical, emotional, moral and intellectual development, those delivering it will have regard to the teaching objectives of all areas of the curriculum. Education for Personal Relationships will be coordinated across the curriculum to give a coherent provision.
(e) Delivery of Education for Personal Relationships will seek to develop the children’s sense of personal safety and well-being.
(f) Parents’ concerns or objections to anything in the programme should be addressed firstly to the delegated senior person or the headteacher. If the matter is not resolved, the Governors can be contacted and the school’s complaints procedures followed.
(a) The Governors of [Name of School] are required by Section 241(5) of the Education Act 1993 to formulate and keep an up to date policy on Sex and Relationships Education in school.
(b) A guide to the law for School Governors (DCSF, January 2008) says:
“32. Governing bodies and headteachers of maintained schools providing primary education must decide whether Sex and Relationships Education (SRE), beyond that set out in the statutory national curriculum for science, should be included in their school’s curriculum and, if so, what it should consist of and how it should be organised. They must keep a written record of their decisions. Schools should consult parents about their SRE programmes.”
The DCSF issued guidance on Education for Personal Relationships to all maintained schools in July 2000. The guidance is underpinned by the Learning and Skills Act 2000, which gives headteachers and governors a statutory responsibility to have regard to the guidance when developing their Education for Personal Relationships policies and to protect pupils from inappropriate teaching materials. Copies of the guidance can be downloaded from www.dcsf.gov.uk/sreguidance.
It is important to recognise that the guidance is not a list of what is legally required, only of what must be considered. Therefore, the governors must read the guidance and declare that the Education for Personal Relationships Policy of the school of which they are a governor has been developed with regard to the Guidance produced by the DCSF.
Any assessment of children made before beginning an Education for Personal Relationships programme will entail consultation with parents of children’s needs at their level of development. Where direct pupil evaluation is to form part of this assessment it will be done with express parental consent. It will not in any way be invasive of the pupil’s privacy and any information gathered will not allow individual pupils to be identified.
Because of day to day contact with children, schools are well placed to observe signs of abuse, changes in behaviour or failure to develop. Parents should be aware that where it appears to a member of staff that a child may have been abused, the school is required as part of the local Safeguarding Procedures, to report their concern to the Children’s Services Department immediately. Confidentiality must not prevent action if a child is thought to be ‘at risk’. The safety and welfare of the child is of paramount importance. (See school policies on safeguarding and child protection).
As in all areas of education, the school provides equal opportunities for all pupils in the area of Education for Personal Relationships at a level appropriate to their age and understanding. (See school policy on equal opportunities).
Education for Citizenship includes social and moral responsibility. Pupils are encouraged to learn from the very beginning, self confidence and social and moral responsible behaviour both in and beyond the classroom, towards those in authority and towards each other.
This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis by the Lancaster Diocese Education Service and subsequently by the governors who seek to be aware of legal changes and respond appropriately. Before any significant change of this policy, advice will be sought from the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service.