Following our Gospel Issues event, Steve Beegoo, our Head of Education, suggests what Christians can be doing given the unprecedented challenges regarding education at this time.
Here at Christian Concern we have had so many parents and church leaders contacting us with concerns regarding their children’s education. The imposition of sex education at younger ages and the inappropriate content of RSE has been extremely worrying to many. The case of Kristie Higgs has been a vivid example of the reaction and vitriol which can result from even raising these kinds of issues. So, what else must we do now?
Our church leaders must recognise the importance of our children, and our community responsibility to teach them together the truths of scripture. When education began in this country, it was Christians and churches which formed the centre of the educational revolution. Over time, this ground has been handed over to the state, and most Christians and church leaders have developed a blind spot in this area.
It is a recent phenomenon that the state should take central control over education. Monasteries and churches offered education to teach children practical skills, reading and much more. There is a reason why there are so many Church of England and Catholic schools. How could you only have a church without a school for children next to it? Similarly, our first universities always had Christian theology as a foundational module in all subjects. Now, our children and young people are being lost to the secularising, sexualising and de-Christianising influences of our culture. Why are we planting churches but not schools? If you are reading this as a member of a church, please advocate for the children in your church, and help your church leader understand the issues.
You can watch more on how to make this case in my Gospel Issues seminar below:
Churches and church leaders should not be afraid to speak out to their church members, and into the national political arena where the voice of Christian reason must be heard. Writing to MPs and supporting those who take a stand, without fear, is surely part of our Christian heritage and mission.
We need to be very vigilant as to what our children are being taught and exposed to. There are several bodies seeking to support Christian parents where they are meeting opposition, where schools are using inappropriate teaching materials or celebrating gay pride events. One of these organisations, Parent Power, has sought to highlight which schools are wholeheartedly endorsing Stonewall’s RSE materials. The Christian Institute’s recent booklet shows the shocking level of depravity being introduced in our schools.
Find our more about what materials are being used in schools:
Parents must be vocal about what they do and don’t want for their children. Raise the issues at parents’ evenings. Ask for a meeting with the headteacher or deputy. Ask to receive all the consultation information about what Relationships and Sex Education is being taught. Do the same with regards to Religious Education. Always work positively with your teacher or school leaders, but where needed, do raise the potential of making a formal complaint to the governors, and team up with other parents so you do not get dismissed as a ‘one off’. Highlight your right to have your religious beliefs respected. Making a formal complaint to the governors and registering this with OFSTED has particular weight. Pray for your school and the teachers who have such a challenging role, and tell them you are praying for them to make wise decisions.
Parents may need to take other courageous steps. As we heard at in a recent episode of our Round the Table livestream, parents like Hayley have determined they must start their own school. I know of several other parents and churches who are considering this course of action. Those who have taken this brave step have seen independent and free schools begin over the recent years, and these are places where Christian values can be boldly expressed and embodied. Schools which are able to employ only committed Christian teachers, such as those in the Christian Schools Trust or Christian Education Europe, are places where parents can often have huge confidence of being supported in their efforts to pass on a Christian faith which is not confined only to a Sunday morning or an assembly, but a faith which impacts every area of life and work.
Some parents have decided to home school, so that they can have as much control as possible over the training and development of their children. Organisations such as CHESS, can support those who are able to choose this approach.
Find out more about setting up a Christian school in Round the Table with Christian Concern:
Many teachers and school staff have become afraid to speak up, and it can be a huge challenge to expect that your Christian values should be respected where the prevailing attitudes are opposed to this. Express your concerns to the most understanding line manager, where you have one, and model the best approaches yourself. Take the opportunities the Lord gives you, as you pray for change, and for the ability to be an influence for Christ. Be a voice for Christian parents and children in your school. Join organisations that can give you support and advice such as here at Christian Concern, or the Association of Christian Teachers. Encourage others in your church to pray for you and your work, and enlist the support of your church leaders. Can they be invited in to provide an assembly or talk on Christianity?
As we have worked together as parents, schools, organisations and churches, we have been able to see a recent significant success. The government has advised schools to refrain from inviting into schools ‘external agencies’ which could be seen to be touting political agendas as part of the offer to support RSE programmes. This recognition has come about because people like us have taken a stand and courageously sought to address the concerning issues arising from new initiatives. We can play a decisive and protective role, so that our children are able to flourish and learn about the wonderful Christian truths we hold dear.
Wherever we are, there is something we can do as we respond to God in this important area of God’s children and their education.