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Thoughts about church youth outreach groups having responsibility for teaching PHSE?

(22 Posts)
Pebbles574 Tue 26-Jan-16 12:11:45

My DCs secondary school (independent, non-denominational, but with church links) outsources all its PHSE lessons to a local church youth ministry group.
I haven't seen any of the materials, and my kids have been fairly 'meh' about the lessons in the past, but I was thinking about this recently and decided that I'm not entirely comfortable with it.

We're not a church-going family, and I would probably describe myself as atheist, or agnostic. The kids are raging atheists, based on their own thoughts and decisions (not my influence).

I can't see how this group can present a modern, balanced view of issues such as sex before marriage, homosexuality etc if the starting point is faith-based.

Of course if I'm worried I should ask to see the materials or talk to the school about the sessions, but I just wondered if it's only me that has a problem with this. It feels as if the churches are using it as a 'back door' route into schools for evangelical purposes?

cressetmama Tue 26-Jan-16 13:16:47

I don't think I'd be happy, on much the same grounds as you.

TrojanWhore Tue 26-Jan-16 13:20:58

It's the school that has the responsibility and who has total control over who comes in, for this or any other subject.

So yes, if you think your school is making poor choices, raise it with them.

happygardening Tue 26-Jan-16 13:27:37

I'm a died in the wool atheist, and can see where you coming from. I'm not against anyone coming in and explaining to children their beliefs but I would hope particularly in this situation whoever does this is able to coherently and in an unbiased manner and spend equal time presenting alternative views/beliefs as well and then allow those listening to have an informed debate. After all you could have an atheist doing it and there's a strong argument for him/her to present in an unbiased way views of various mainstream religions. Secondly I would like to hope that those presenting these lessons had the tact to realise that many of the pupils will not come from the traditional Christian home of a mum and dad 2.5 kids and dog and that condemning homo sexuality etc could be highly offensive. I also suspect that what ever the views of the organisation presenting it teenagers 1. as you've already said think the lessons are 'meh' and 2 already hold strong views on the subjects so are unlikely to be that influenced.

CanvasAwning Tue 26-Jan-16 14:17:09

I wouldn't be happy with it. I think that teachers often disclose their beliefs but they would be fully aware that they need to be unbiased and so would do it in non judgemental way. These people coming in clearly have an agenda and even if they don't get the bible out and start bashing it, they will still be imparting their beliefs on young, impressionable minds. PHSE lessons are normally very frank with information about how to put on condoms, STDs, abortion, etc. Are these people the right people for the job? The word "ministry" in their title is cause for concern.

ThoughtlessMess Tue 26-Jan-16 14:42:38

I am a Christian & this outsourcing makes me uncomfy, tbh. I would like some questions answered before I accepted this form of delivery of such important material to my teenagers -
Do the the speakers have appropriate teaching qualifications?
I s'pose it depends on how they're going to be monitored - are the speakers keeping to the syllabus?
Are they only using core materials or are they allowed to supplement them; if so, I would like to see what with (or at least know that the appropriate school pastoral contact has approved them, line by line).
It'd't also be important to me to know the views of the church & it's leaders on the messages within PSHE, esp sexuality. Any suggestion of bias would be completely inappropriate.
Finally I'd like to know if the outsourcing met the school's tendering process; no suggestion of 'foul play', but I know of one local case where contracts have been awarded to staff's family & friends.

Despite (perhaps because of?) my own religious beliefs, I think I'm open minded & would hate to have anyone at all force my DCs into their belief set.

BertrandRussell Tue 26-Jan-16 14:45:45

I would want to see the material. I think this is wholly inappropriate, but it is happening more and more. And people will come on doing the "oh, a little Christianity doesn't hurt- don't you trust your children to make up their own mind?"- er- yes, actually, I do. But I don't expect them to have to make their mind up about Christiantiy in a PHSE lesson!

FaithLoveandHope Tue 26-Jan-16 14:47:55

I'm a Christian and wouldn't at all be comfortable with this. I think PSHE should be completely balanced and unbiased. DP and I both think children and young people should be brought up to make their own, informed decision when it comes to belief. But PSHE can be so important in teaching people facts about things and learning how to handle various situations, it certainly shouldn't be left to some church group who probably (even if inadvertently) have their own agenda. I'd definitely bring it up with the school if I were you.

Seriouslyffs Tue 26-Jan-16 14:51:00

I'm a Christian and I'd want to see the materials.

BackforGood Tue 26-Jan-16 19:54:05

I can't see how this group can present a modern, balanced view of issues such as sex before marriage, homosexuality etc if the starting point is faith-based

Why not?
Are you making assumptions about all Christians ?

Pebbles574 Tue 26-Jan-16 21:06:48

BackforGood - I'm making the assumption that their Christian faith is the basis for most of their attitudes and beliefs and that their strong commitment makes it harder to represent alternative viewpoints.

Why do you think a church group is so keen to fulfil this role in schools?

BackforGood Tue 26-Jan-16 23:14:38

I don't know, and, if I'm honest, it seems a very lazy and unbalanced way for a school to go about delivering their PHSE.


Many Christians don't have any issues with sex before marriage or homosexuality and it was that 'lumping together of all Christians' into some conservative grouping that seemed odd to me.

Seriouslyffs Tue 26-Jan-16 23:39:37

I can think of lots of Christians me! who could deliver a fantastic PSHE course to teenagers but I wouldn't do it under the auspices of my church or the Christian organisation I work for. Definitely ask to see the scheme of work.

balletgirlmum Tue 26-Jan-16 23:44:00

I had a thread on this very issue recently. I'm not at all comfortable with it.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 29-Jan-16 10:11:50

You do realise that Christians have a wide variety of views on all of those topics and making wide ranging generalisations about what you think they might be teaching isn't going to be particularly helpful.

Unless you want to make a total fool of yourself, I would ask what they cover and ask about how they cover the topics you are worried about. Only then can you complain about what they are teaching.

Pebbles574 Fri 29-Jan-16 11:22:32

Rafa - I don't think you can have read my OP, as I never mentioned anything about complaining at this stage. I was more interested to find out if other MNers shared my slight discomfort with this seeming like evangelicism via a back door.
I think PHSE (NB - Personal, Social, Health and Economic - NOT Spiritual) education is really important and it is unhelpful and unnecessary to add an extra 'religious' layer to it (if, indeed, this is what happens). I would be equally concerned if the classes were being provided by youth group workers from the local mosque or Sikh temple.
I also think having it delivered via the local church groups may be counterproductive in that if teenagers have already made their own decisions regarding their faith and have rejected religion (as mine have) then this may undermine the perceived value and validity of the lessons.

I did check out some of the PHSE lesson plans, and one of then included this: "The lesson closed with thought-provoking words from the Bible about God’s good plans for every young person. (Jer 29:11)"

Seriouslyffs Fri 29-Jan-16 15:09:06

That is totally inappropriate for PSHE.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 30-Jan-16 20:02:31

There is one Christian group in our town who I would absolutely trust to deliver an appropriate PHSE curriculum. They are community youth workers who are trusted and respected by the local Council and are conscientious about maintaining boundaries between their personal beliefs and the needs of the young people they work with. In any case, their views on sexuality, relationships etc are very mainstream and comparable to anything likely to be taught in any other PHSE classroom. Not all Christians (or even the majority according to today's press) have out-dated views about such things.

However, there are other Christian groups in our town who I absolutely wouldn't want within a mile of a classroom full of impressionable teenagers. And I'd share your concern in case it is one of those sorts of groups who are involved.

In your shoes, I'd be asking for information about their remit and the materials they are using. But I'd keep an open mind. I'd also be making sure I discuss with my teenage daughter what sort of things they are discussing. It could make for some interesting conversations.

VikingVolva Sat 30-Jan-16 20:06:03

Why is your school outsourcing this at all?

Marniasmum Sun 31-Jan-16 15:30:02

why don't you find out a bit more instead of sitting there narrow-mindedly pre-judging something you know nothing about?

ilovesooty Sun 31-Jan-16 15:40:45

I'd want to see the materials and find out more.
I think some aspects of PSHE are better outsourced - drug and alcohol education for one.

Pebbles574 Mon 01-Feb-16 14:49:34

Marniasmum - and why don't you read the thread properly instead of sitting there narrow-mindedly pre-judging someone you know nothing about?
(Hint: I've already indicated that I've looked up some of the materials.)

I was simply asking whether other MNers had the same initial reaction to this as I do, in order to get a sense of whether I might be over-reacting. This thread has shown me that many do, and that I'm not...

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