1. What topics will the teaching cover?
The Educate & Celebrate program assists the school to comply with its legal duty to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share and do not share the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010. It does this through a set of 25 books, specially chosen for their themes, characters and stories, which teach that “people are different”,“it's ok to be different” and “we should be kind to everyone”, so that we can stop people being bullied or made to feel sad because of the colour of their skin, their beliefs, their religion, their culture, their gender or their sexuality.
2. Why are you teaching my child how to be gay?
The program does NOT teach children to be gay, it teaches them that some people have the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010, including being gay, and that the law says that it is wrong to discriminate against someone because of a protected characteristic. Seven of the 25 books used contain characters or themes that introduce the concept of sexual orientation and gender identity, but the other books focus on the other 'protected characteristics', e.g. in some of the books there are mixed race families, disabled characters or characters in traditional dress.
3. My traditions, beliefs or religion does not support what you are teaching, why are you doing this?
We recognise and celebrate the fact that Acre Rigg families come from around the world and that we have a huge diversity of backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs. We are very proud of this and have worked very hard to create the kind, caring, tolerant and understanding ethos that is in line with our vision to 'Live & Learn'.
At Acre Rigg Academy, we already teach the children about people's different beliefs and our rules, rewards and consequences system is based on a mutual respect for everyone. This includes being kind to people who are different to ourselves. Difference is protected in law (Equality Act 2010) and we have a duty of care towards our younger citizens of Peterlee to prepare them for life in a world that is different to their parents' or grandparents' generation.
4. I'm worried that my child will end up becoming gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered because of what you are teaching.
The evidence shows that you cannot teach a child to 'become gay', but we can reduce and hopefully eliminate people being taunted, bullied and repressed because they are. Your children are exposed to huge range of influences in their life; your views, beliefs and traditions as parents and families, the images that they see on television and in the media and the things they learn from friends in the playground and the staff in the school. What we are trying to do is make them aware that people are different and that, in order to comply with the law, they must be kind to everyone.
Learn more here: (watch 'My Transgender Kid' Channel 4 documentary)
5. What exactly are you planning to teach and what are your expected outcomes?
The school aims to ensure that all of our children have a good understanding of:
We will teach the children to:
'Equality' – equal opportunities, everyone has rights, everyone has feelings, everyone should be respected; and
'Diversity' – people are different, difference should be celebrated, difference is normal.
They will also be taught that the law is there to protect these rights.
Know that people live in a wide range of families, e.g. some children have 'a mummy & a daddy', some have '2 mummies' or '2 daddies', some have 'a black mummy and a white daddy', etc.
Use language relating to protected characteristics correctly, so that they do not think that it is acceptable use racial slurs, descriptions about women or the word ‘gay’ as a derogatory term or an insults
6. Yes, but what exactly are you teaching my child in terms of words? How, for example, can I explain what 'transgendered' means to my 7 year old?
Please take a look at the lesson plans from the Educate & Celebrate website (listed above). In time, we shall produce an overview which breaks down which books are covered in which year groups. From experience, children are usually much more accepting of difference than adults. If you were to explain that someone who is 'transgendered' is a person who was born with the wrong body, most children will just accept this! It's a medical fact that everyone in the world (up to about 6-8 weeks of age, in utero) was female!
7. What can I do as a parent to help? I'm worried my own views will be confusing for my child...
We recognise that in our diverse school community that adults will have different views and strongly held beliefs. These are also protected under the same Equality Act. One of the big things that you can do as a parent is to start to think about your views of 'normal'. Rather than saying that a traditional family is 'normal' we'd recommend describing this as 'typical'. A 'typical' family, to which the majority of our children belong is not wrong and we would never say that it is! A child growing up in a family with 2 dads is not 'typical', but for them, it is 'normal'. There's really no such thing as a 'normal' in this day and age!
Your child may come home with questions about what they've learnt in school. We'd suggest you listen to their questions and answer them honestly and truthfully. We may have told them that 'some children have 2 mummies' and they may ask you about that. Your response should be, 'yes, some children do have 2 mummies and that's ok, in our family/religion/belief we.....'. We are more than happy to help you respond to any questions that come up and our skilled teachers will probably have already sensitively answered them within the lesson.
There is a well known saying that 'no-one is born racist'. Racism occurs and grows over time because children pick up on certain beliefs and views of others. In schools racism is completely unacceptable. One of the Educate & Celebrate program's aims is to eliminate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in a similar way, by increasing awareness and understanding and challenging some long held 'wrong' beliefs over time.
8. As a school you can choose not to teach this/why have you chosen this particular program?
All schools and academies have a legal duty:
The National Curriculum, which is taught at this school and enables us to provide that 'balanced and broadly based curriculum', adds that:
Teachers should take account of their duties under equal opportunities legislation that covers race, disability, sex, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.'
Therefore, the Educate and Celebrate program provides an excellent resource to support the school’s teaching and learning, but to put the program into context, it equates to approximately 0.1% of the total teaching time, as sharing 3 of the books in a year will take about 1½ hours in total out of approximately 1235 teaching hours each year.
to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share and do not share protected characteristics (the Equality Act 2010); and
to provide its pupils with a balanced and broadly based curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life (the Education Act 2002).
9. I'm still not happy and would like to complain.
This initiative is fully supported by the Department for Education & Ofsted. However, all parents have the opportunity to complain to the school or another agency through the usual channels.
10. I'm still not happy and want to complain to Ofsted!
Ofsted also fully support the Educate & Celebrate program being taught in schools and have produced a range of guidance to assist governing bodies to comply with their statutory duties. However, if you would still like to complain to Ofsted you can contact them through their website.
'Teach and Inspire; Engage and Enrich'