Permissions and Boundaries
Teachers come from the whole spectrum of faith positions, from radical secularism to commitment to Christianity, Islam or another world religion. Since Curriculum for Excellence calls us to be committed to educational approaches that are holistic and inclusive, this means that we bring our whole selves to support pupils in the classroom (our life experiences and our beliefs and values, as well as our academic knowledge and skills).
What does this mean in practice?
Our role is to support children and young people’s learning and development; no teacher, whether Christian, secularist or whatever, has the right to manipulate a pupil or to present a single belief system as the only one they can choose to follow.
A key purpose of learning is to equip children and young people to examine differing values/beliefs and enable them to make their own informed choices and decisions1. Christian Values in Education is about giving alternative viewpoints to children and young people and equipping them to choose between them.
What permissions and boundaries do I have as a teacher?
- Start with “A Place for Christian Values in Scottish Education”. This document was developed in consultation with teachers and head teachers, and over a dozen Christian charities. It gives a thoughtful Rationale for the entitlements of Children and Young People, Parents and Carers, Teachers and Support Staff
- Our Survey of Relevant Themes within Curriculum for Excellence is essential reading
- Read “Secular vs Plural in Scottish Schools” by Kieran Turner of the EA
How can I ensure that any Christian organisation I invite into my school fully understands the Do’s and Don’ts of schools work?
- When you first meet, share the Protocol for Partnership Working with your visitor. Scripture Union Scotland is already signed up to this Protocol, but it is also available for use by any other visitor from a faith perspective. Discuss how this can be adopted by the visitor (and if appropriate the church or organisation he/she is part of), and shared with your Head Teacher. It is likely to be reassuring for any school.
- If the visitor is coming to the school over a period of time, explore whether it would be helpful (both to the school and the visitor) to make a Partnership Agreement
- Encourage your visitor to have a good look at the relevant section of this Christian Values in Education site. It has a great deal of important and practical advice tailored to Schools Workers, Chaplains, Parents and Volunteers
- Schools have a duty to inform parents about a range of innovations and one-off events. Often this is done by the school website, but a letter home is sometimes appropriate (see for example, the model letter in this link).
How do I demonstrate the educational worth of Christian Values in Education?
- Use the Evaluation sheet as a starting point
- Share with your Head Teacher the Anytown School Chaplaincy Policy. The policy follows advice from HM Inspectors of Education, and is fully in accord with the principles of Curriculum for Excellence. It is an excellent way of developing:
- Pupil voice in a range of whole school issues (not just RO Assemblies, but also charity and other initiatives)
- Partnership with the community
- Pupil leadership and empowerment
1 “…opportunities for young people to reflect meaningfully on different points of view and values, including their own. It creates chances to think about the nature and possible meaning of life and humans’ place in the world. It can promote critical thinking, supporting the development of an awareness that not all people think the same or share the same ideas and experiences about life.” (Scottish Government letter to Petitions Committee, 17 October 2013)