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RC secondaries - how they approach RC values

(14 Posts)
taralee Wed 10-Sep-08 15:29:29

I am interested in current approaches to teaching at these schools.
I'm starting to look at secondaries. DD1 is at a lovely RC primary. We go to church every sunday and I would describe myself as a rather secular catholic who loves the community and ceremony and many (but not all) of the values.
Of course I realise that she would be taught RE from a catholic perspective at RC secondary which of course I am happy about.

But in 2008 how do they cover the more shall we say, contraversial and sensitive RC views like abortion & homosexuality being a sin?
I ask because 20 years ago at my secondary we were shown a horrible video of an abortion. I DO NOT want dd to see anything like that. Plus I would be upset if she was taught that being gay was a terrible thing.
Just wondered if anyone has up-to-date experience of an RC secondary? Is it more about discussion and debate these days?

Jo62 Wed 10-Sep-08 16:09:19

I'm from an RC background tho now a complete atheist, had a traditional RC education a lot like yours. My sister is now head of guidance at an RC girls' school and from what I can make out, there's not been much evolution. I don't know about abortion videos but I definitely have had quite a few arguments with her about how gay issues are presented. My sis is homophobic anyhow so doesn't see the problem - quite worrying in the head of guidance, if you ask me! There's a good campaign run by Stonewall ('Some people are gay, get over it!' which they take into schools) - maybe you could contact them and ask whether your proposed secondary works with them?

taralee Wed 10-Sep-08 16:19:01

Great idea. Have emailed Stonewall. I have to say I'd be AMAZED if any RC schools worked with them. Sad eh?

frogs Wed 10-Sep-08 22:52:15

Dd1 is at a very straitlaced catholic secondary school where several teachers are openly gay (eg bringing their partner to school concerts). The staff seem to be very relaxed about discussing sex-related matters that come up in the course of eg. literature lessons.

I would go nuclear if she were shown one of those anti-abortion horror movies -- not that I'm hugely pro-abortion, but don't think shock tactics are the way to go.

I would be v. surprised if the schools were actively working with eg. stonewall though, as the diocese and the governors probably wouldn't let it pass. Nor would you necessarily expect them to be taught the full hands-on, put-a-condom-on-a-banana style of sex-ed. But they do seem to be pretty straightforward in the information they transmit, and I know dd1's school isn't unusual, eg. another popular local very Catholic school is still run by nuns, and they also had quite upfront sex-ed.

Ask the school at the open days, and see what response you get.

Tommy Wed 10-Sep-08 23:01:44

I taught RE in 2 Catholic secondaries and while we didn't show scary abortion videos or put condoms on bananas, (they might have done that in the science department - I don't know grin) we wouldn't have been able to work with a group like Stonewall or something like that as the official Catholic teaching would not allow it - we had to tread carefully around all those sort of issues as I know of several incidents where parents/grandparents etc had considered that Catholic teaching had been compromised.

I honestly think that it depends on the school - where you are in the country (e.g. sometimes Catholicism is more "traditional" n the north of England and Scotland) and the personalities of the Head and the RE Dept.

At one school where I taught we were all fairly liberal minded about such things and they they appointed a crazy, slightly-to-the-right-of-the-pope woman as Head of dept and it all went horribly wrong (the sort of thing you don't want)

Do you know other parents with children at the school? Best way of finding out about such things IME

taralee Thu 11-Sep-08 10:07:04

I don't know any parents but I am going to the Open days. Not sure that directly asking will help since they will presumably say that they teach in accordance with catholic values (so as not to offend anyone in either direction!). A more relaxed chat with a parent or friendly teacher would probably be more helpful.
I case anyone knows the schools they are:
Coloma in Corydon
Sacred Heart, Hammersmith.

Tommy Thu 11-Sep-08 13:21:20

Have a look at the posters and displays in the RE dept and the chapel as well as around the place generally - they will give some clues
I know Sacred Heart a little - should be fine if the ethos of the Sacred Heart sisters is still strong. A friend went to the Coloma but that was a long time ago now!

Tommy Thu 11-Sep-08 13:22:46

Personally, with those 2 schools, I wouldn't worry to much about the concerns you mentioned in OP. If it was St Catholic's of Catholicland in Birmingham, I would be slightly more hmm

grin

mdrooney Thu 11-Sep-08 14:05:41

My dds are in yr 7 and 8, and go to a faily strict catholic school in north London, dd1 who was in y7 last year seems to have had some realexed teachings in sex educaton and talks in science and stuff and it seems fairly libral. but not too much........ I was pleasently suprised, as I rember my catholic school being very stict on its views.

frogs Thu 11-Sep-08 14:09:36

mdrooney -- LSU, by any chance? V. up front sex-ed from the small but scary Sr Aideen, so I hear. grin

You should be fine with Sacred Heart, not heard anything too pitchforky from there. Don't know Coloma, but probably a similar deal.

mdrooney Thu 11-Sep-08 15:21:36

frogs ........ yes it is LSU and I was really suprised pleased but suprised as I was worried that it being strict in so many ways, my girls just love the uniform (not) it wouldnt be v up front........

tonton Thu 11-Sep-08 15:27:48

Tommy LOL at St Catholics of Catholicland! Sounds like the school I went to 20 years aho.....grin

SqueakyPop Thu 11-Sep-08 18:37:52

I teach in a RC independent school.

I would say that Christian values pervade the school. We value and insist upon good manners, kindness and looking out for one another. We value the social, emotional and educational needs of each individual girl - a legacy from our the religious order that founded the school. We are a very prayerful school. We raise money for charities, often Catholic ones, but not exclusively.

Our assemblies are Christian, with prayer, singing and a topical talk with references to the bible.

I have not come across preaching about abortion or homosexuality. I don't really know where it would come up, tbh. We do inform the girls about contraception and do not pass judgment. Abstinence is one of their options (and I am happy to give them my personal opinion, emphasises that it is my personal opinion, that this is the best choice before marriage, and certainly while they are still children). I tend to see what comes up from the pupils before deciding how 'moral' to make my lessons. It's also important to be sensitive to pupils whose parents are not married to one another.

I don't think anything we teach is ever in absolutes. It is all about pros and cons, and what some groups believe vs others. They do have to make up their own minds, no matter where they come from. The key thing is to inform them as much as possible.

taralee Fri 12-Sep-08 10:19:00

Thanks squeakypop. That's exactly the sort of teaching I would be looking for for my dd. I hope all the teachers I meet have as a similar approach to you!

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