What teachers say

27th March 1998 at 00:00
The Government's standards chief has provoked debate by suggesting schools play a central role in shaping morality.

Stuart Longworthy, head of business studies, Brockworth comprehensive, Gloucestershire: "Whose morals are we talking about? - if Mr Barber is talking about the Government setting moral standards, wellI "In our school we do quite a lot of morality teaching, there is a compulsory course in Years 10 and 11 in which children look at different moralities, both religious and more general.

"We also look at social issues such as euthanasia and abortion and the children will study the different religious aspects of those views. The response is very, very positive.

"As a school we have a regular assembly but the religious content is not always directly evident. Having said that we always have a moral theme. I imagine that for a number of schools it would be a great shock to remove that altogether.

Simon Marsh, head of St Mary Magdalene's primary in north London, and chair of the Association of Christian Teachers: "There have been various attempts to establish a new morality, one with a consensus and one that can be changed, but we usually end up making a hash of it.

"In terms of right and wrong I don't think we have progressed in the last 2,000 years. What we have now is a range of gods such as money and power - which we are more successful in promoting.

"Christianity may not be able to claim unquestioning obedience, but what can? We can't even keep to speed limits without the threat of speed cameras."

Linda Lefevre, head of Breacknock primary in north London: " As head of an inner-city school where we have Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians, I think we are already putting across a moral code. Assembly is mainly Christian but we also fit in the stories of the Sikh gurus.

"We have a booklet, Golden Guidelines for a Happy Playtime, and we have a school council where we listen to the children's views. It's all about citizenship.

"Our children take a great interest in their environment. Their immediate environment is in poor condition, but they are getting involved with saving whales and they are aware of burning rainforests. I think that underlines this idea of a global citizenship. There is a place for Christianity but I would question if it is in schools."

Alistair Bushnell, teacher, Foxwood special school, Hythe, Kent: "Parents should have the option of their children not being taught Christianity. The thing is if you remove it completely you're going to upset a lot of people.

"We teach about community and about how what they do can affect others. We try to bring in other religions - we have Muslim and Church of England here - as well as different cultures.

"The idea of a global citizenship is not bad one. We look at each child's place in the world and how they belong in it and what that means to them."

Adam Coulter

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