Although all schools have positive and appealing vision statements, none are neutral. While many simply reflect a prevailing cultural bias in their ethos and their teaching, some seek to promote values that are distinctly non-Christian or even antithetical to a Christian perspective. This is why it is vitally important to talk to your child about the assumed values and attitudes within their schoolwork, helping them to recognise and resist various ideas that they are being taught. This teaching must begin and be sustained in the home. It is also why it is important to maintain good communication with their teachers in order to affirm the primacy of Christian values in teaching and learning.
Often, though not exclusively, tensions can arise in relation to Christian values as they apply to Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) which covers things like drug awareness, healthy living, economic wellbeing, citizenship, financial responsibility, diet and nutrition, and Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). The content of PSHE can be determined by groups formed by staff and governors. If you have an opportunity to get involved in such a group, take it.
In the event of you becoming aware of problems with what is being taught – for example: when sex is being portrayed as a casual leisure activity rather than a gift from God to be enjoyed within marriage; or same sex marriage is portrayed as being normative or equivalent to heterosexual marriage; or forms of racism are endorsed; or greed or exploitation of others is shown as acceptable – the first thing to do is to check all the facts rather than simply react. Once you have clearly established precisely what and how something was taught, by whom, to whom and when – then you should prepare to talk to the teaching staff. The support of other parents can often be important when addressing problems.
A common issue for parents is age-appropriate teaching – whereby children are being subjected to themes and issues for which they are too young. It is important to be vigilant by asking questions about your child’s studies on sensitive issues and to monitor homework in order to discern whether what is being taught is appropriate to the level of maturity of your child. However, it is not advised to go storming up to the school after a particular trigger point. Ask to see the teachers concerned for a discussion so that they can understand your point of view and values. And be aware that there will come a point when your child should be exposed to controversy and taught to handle it.