From Fr .1 oseph Quigley and others.
Sir, In her article "Concern at sex education for primary school pupils" (Feb 22). Christina White accurately reports that the project was written by the Diocesan Department of Religious Education and came out of the experience of schools working in Birmingham. In a city where teenage pregnancy rates are some of the highest in Europe. parents and teachers wanted to share with children what the Church teaches about the human person. The project will provide the context for what will properly follow after.
Through video and lesson plans it shares with children different aspects of their humanity in a culture that often ignores their Godgiven dignity. It is not the intention of the authors either to take away from children their innocence or to usurp the right of parents "as the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith".
The resource is informed by the teaching of the Church and is shaped by the experience of children and young people. Both the video and teacher resource was written by teachers, theologians and advisers, reviewed by parents before its publication and amended in light of their comments. It provides teachers with an orthodox Catholic programme of human development.
Schools will receive copies of the material at training that will take place in the summer term. Although aimed at Year 5. schools will be advised to make a judgement over when to introduce the programme and to share it with parents beforehand. Clearly parents will have the right of withdrawal. What the writers aimed to do was give the diocesan community a resource it can have confidence in. Hopefully those who read the programme will not find it "ghastly, sentimental and voyeuristic" but an attempt to share the Church's teaching on the dignity of the human person with the young. Not to try would surely be a graver abdication of responsibility.