Here is a critique of 'All that I Am', a programme of sex education developed for CATHOLIC schools for the diocese of the man who is Chairman of the Catholic Education Service, who has now been named the next Archbishop of Westminster: Vincent Nichols.
1 It is extremely clear in the teaching of the Catholic Church that the prime educators of children on these matters are parents. There is a lot of evidence that shows that this position is valid and is by far the best way to provide effective values education for children. (BMJ research 19/1/07). Programmes which talk about sex and condoms have either no effect or (according to the literature) make things worse. Children almost always express a preference for their parents to explain these things to them. Outcomes are much more favourable among those for whom their parents are the main sources of information about sexual matters.
2 The proposed school program, as well as the diocesan policy usurps the role of parents by failing to involve them in the process of education. The process merely informs them and does not promote or support the role of parents in delivering this. The proposed school programme is therefore against Catholic teaching.
3 Where parents are not involved in the delivery of the programme, teachers may depart from the material approved and add inappropriate material. We know of a child in year 5 who was told by a school nurse “you don’t need a daddy to have children. For a few hundred pounds you can get a baby by a visit to a laboratory.” (Details of artificial insemination followed.)
With regard to the currently proposed program, “All That I Am”
4 While this program is less visually pornographic than alternatives, we still cannot condone something which is less corrupting.
5 Parts of the program which equate the bits on washing to being rejected because of smell etc to year 5 children are not necessary but also encourages feelings of inadequacy to those who are less than perfect. See DVD.
6 Discussion of periods is appropriate for girls, with their mothers but not in mixed sex classes. Boys should not be troubled with this in Y5. See Teaching Strategies p13
7 Boys and girls should not feel it is appropriate to have open disclosure of these issues and the programme clearly promotes this; this is culturally out of step and is inappropriate behaviour in our society, even for adults. CCC2522
8 “God does not want to hold us back from full self expression” (teachers manual year 6, p38) is an incorrect sentiment. He most certainly does want us to hold back from many ways in which we can express ourselves, primarily those ways which are sinful and which harm others and ourselves.
9 Y5 video and 09.30 has an inappropriate discussion of periods and presentation of female reproductive system in graphic form (needs justifying that this is necessary, or helpfully formative given lack of similar detail to anatomy of other systems at this Key Stage) and naked female form. The showing of naked adult forms and reproductive tracts in class falsely legitimises the sort of pornographic viewing on the Internet to which boys are particularly at risk.
10 In the Yr 5 "handbook" it says that "The onset of physical and emotional changes, such that is experienced in pre-adolescence and puberty, now require children to get information from sources, other than their parents.’’ This anecdotal comment is also often made by government teenage sexual health units with no scientific reference to back it up.
11 Y6;- specific questions as to whom can the child trust can introduce doubts and division into a parental relationship;- a study has shown that if the school introduces sex ed before the parents the children will go to the person who introduced them to the subject. (Who will be there in the future?)
12 Y6 key vocabulary = testicles! Also Ejaculate. We do not agree that this is key vocabulary for understanding human relationships in year 6.
13 We think this is the wrong program for the promotion of values;- How do I take care of myself (Y6 resource sheet 7) in these sheets we find no mention of sin, or values or keeping safe from moral danger etc, respect for others only cleanliness etc. The discussion of positive values like self-control, generosity, purity, good friendships, modesty are lacking.
14 Discussion of “wet dreams” should not be done in groups. Many parents at our schools feel it should be done individually, privately, probably not at year six (and definitely not with girls). (See CCC;2522 Modesty is decency. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.)
15 There is almost nothing in the Y5 and Y6 curricula about marriage, self-control, chastity and stable relationships.
16 This is not a programme that builds on a child’s understanding or natural interest in procreation, the approach recommended by the Vatican's document "Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality" (TMHS). Adults can interpret a child’s interest with their own adult understanding and thus impose on the child information the child had not sought.
17 This programme should be seen as a whole (we have viewed the material up to year 11 with a group of parents and a priest); it is highly sexual, introduces all areas of sex and related matters, to children at different stages of maturity. Discussion in pairs and as groups is a key part of the teaching strategy. The subject matter presented is often beyond the maturity, intellectual and moral formation of the pupils it is aimed at. It is disingenuous to publicly open up sexual behaviour, before the children are ready for it, and before it is approved, even in our society. Contrast this with the way smoking and alcohol are presented.
19 The KS1&2 material must be seen along with the KS3&4 to allow one to be fully concerned about the whole programme. The producers quote an otherwise largely obscure psychologist whose quoted piece was published after the pilot visual material of the programme was made. He states ‘Can we envisage 9 and 10 year old girls mature enough to start their sexual careers?’ J Coleman. Like other such material in the teachers’ notes, this appears twice in the teachers’ notes for KS3 and KS4.
20 There are scientific errors in the KS1&2 materials and also in KS3&4.
Therefore we maintain the God given right of parents to be the prime educators of their children in this matter, and insist that the school withdraw this education from our children, allowing us to take responsibility for this aspect of their education.