Monday, 7 April 2008

Every Child Matters - a parent's comment

The following has come via a comment on the post "School bans girl's crisps". I publish it here as a discrete post. The comment is of interest as one thing I did not say in the post it responded to was... that the school involved was a Catholic primary school. I have also just amused myself by looking up its OFSTED report, published in January of this year. The school achieved an overall effectiveness grade 2 (good).

From the text of the report:

"Pupils have an excellent understanding of how to live healthy and safe lives. One said, 'I run up and down the stairs - it warms me up and gives me exercise!'"

And then from the list of judgements at the end of the report:

"The extent to which learners adopt healthy lifestyles grade 1 (outstanding)
The extent to which learners adopt safe practices grade 1 (outstanding)"

Well, there are circumstances where it may be quite safe to run up and down stairs (I can think of an experiment sometimes done in science lessons to work out the power of a person); but, as a general rule, for primary age pupils in their general movement around a building, it would be discouraged in favour of walking! Oh, wonderful, wonderful, OFSTED.

Though I know of the "All that I am" programme to which this comment refers, I am not familiar with the content of the programme and its materials. I would be happy to receive comments with other people's experiences of the programme. I am not sure that I would agree with characterising the ECM agenda as "evil" per se, but I can see that it is giving rise to serious difficulties. I suspect, as this comment seems to indicate, that Catholic schools need to be a bit more critical/assertive in the way in which they respond to the demands of ECM.

I did leave a comment earlier about my experiences of ECM, as a parent. It must have somehow got lost on the worldwide web. I shall try again.1.Collecting my children from school earlier this year, a question on the way home in the car from my son: "mum, what`s child pornography". The two 7 year olds in the back asked as well, as I tried not to steer the car off the road into a tree. They had a visit from the local policeman who, as it turns out, went into some detail about what child pornography is and why it gets on the internet and to please ring them on this number if they suspect they have seen any. It led to many questions from my children about why people would want to view this stuff or produce it in the first place. I was shaking by the time I got home. This part of the timetable came under something called "personal health and safety" and my enquiries showed that it is part of the Every Child Matters Agenda. We know every child matters. Show me anyone who actively believes "Only Some Children Matter". Those who don`t think any children matter will eventually be dealt with by the courts, as with Victoria Climbie's killer( which gave rise to this ECM stuff).It is complete nonsense and being used to enforce a secular/anything goes agenda in our Catholic schools. THEY are the ones affected by it, not the community schools. It is ONLY in a Catholic school that children will be taught that certain things are moral absolutes and wrong: abortion, pre-marital sex, divorce, to name the 3 obvious ones. What ECM is succeeding in doing (because teachers do not want to ignore a government directive - their jobs depend upon it)is under-mining parents' right to educate their Catholic children in matters of the faith. And these are literally matters of life and death. My childrens' dignity was assaulted by this health and safety lesson. They and I were violated. But parents have no recourse. Everyone in authority supports this ECM nonsense. NO-one wants to rock the boat for fear of being unable to pay their mortgage in 6 months' time..

2.My son in year 5 last year was put through a programme called " All that I Am". This is a sex education programme that has been approved by the Department of Health and funded by them, in co-operation with the Church for use in our schools. The last time I checked, the DOH didn`t share my values about sex education for chlidren. However, that aside, and trusting that it would be fine - this is a Catholic shcool, after all - I ticked the box agreeing to it. My son, at the end of the week relayed to me all that he had learned. I had also taken the trouble to read the programme myself. It is big on dignity, self-worth, God's love. Doesn`t mention chastity once. The teacher (non-catholic) taking them through the programme expanded onto teenage sex, and how many teenagers are getting STDs because they are becoming sexually active "too early". Sexuality was not taught within the context of the Sacrament of marriage. It was taught as an animal bodily function with a bit of spirituality thrown in. This was a real mistake on my part to have allowed my son to go through this. I should never have put his soul in this position, and it has caused enormous distress. I do not know how I could have been so utterly stupid. With hindsight, I should have removed him from school, for the week, and taken him through the teaching myself. I have since, with the help of Grace, ironed out the misunderstandings and filled in the teachings of the Church for him. I will not make the same mistake again.These are just 2 small examples, Joseph, of how ECM is being used to enforce, by stealth, (you can be sure most people aren`t even noticing)this government's anti-Christian agenda. They are not anti-faith, as such. We parents just have to put up with it, or take our own evasive/curative action. NO-one is listening to us -our priests (with notable vocal exceptions - Fr Tim Finegan understands this perfectly), our teachers or our governors. NO-one wants to speak out.And, the government has also brought a supplementary document to ECM called " Every Muslim Child Matters". When I rang the Schools Department to ask for a copy of "Every Catholic Child Matters", they told me that that was not one of their publications. We are not imagining this, Joseph. ECM is evil. MY children matter to me, and I will not have their dignity and my authority udnermined by ECM. I do believe I am not alone, but as you can appreciate, with so very little support, you have be robust to speak out.

I am glad you have raised ECM. Because it certainly matters to me, and many parents. I believe, from terrible experience, it is much more serious than low fat crisps.

1 comment:

Joe said...


If you would like to send me a new comment, conveying the substance of your criticism of this post but without the element of personal attack, I will be happy to post it. I am happy to post a comment that offers a reasoned disagreement.