Ten Ten’s programme for Catholic schools is not faithful to Catholic teaching

by John Smeaton

A brochure promoting Ten Ten Resources’ RSHE programme for Catholic schools, “Life to the Full”, has been sent to every priest in the archdiocese of Southwark.

Ten Ten Resources describes itself as “a leading provider of faith-based resources for Catholic primary schools, working with tens of thousands of children, teachers and parents throughout the UK”. They also say that, “since 2007, Ten Ten has been providing ground-breaking and award-winning programmes for Catholic secondary schools throughout the UK”.

The Catholic Education Service, in partnership with Ten Ten Resources, is providing teachers in Catholic primary and secondary schools with training in the new statutory RSHE (Relationship, Sex and Health Education) curriculum. The training is free and has been created in conjunction with the Department of Education.

A priest in the Southwark archdiocese who alerted Voice of the Family to the brochure told us it was a clear attempt to get priests to see Ten Ten’s resources as faithful to Catholic teaching. He is absolutely right to question its orthodoxy; albeit, according to Bishop Marcus Stock, the bishop of Leeds and chairman of the Catholic Education Service in England and Wales:

“The training and the model curriculum are deeply rooted in, and faithful to, the Catholic Church’s vision of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God and the truth and meaning of human sexuality. The content of the curriculum is based upon the God-given dignity of each and every pupil and through an understanding of the Virtues teaches our children and young people to make healthy choices that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

One section of the brochure promotes a 60-minute webinar for teachers entitled “How to engage parents with ‘Life to the Full’”. The section lists ways of “truly” engaging parents, such as emphasising “the crucial role of parents as first educators”, “the privilege of co-educating with parents on matters of Relationships, Sex and Health Education” and “understanding ‘the right of withdrawal’”. Significantly, however, the section concludes, by explaining: 

“The session does not give you a full content overview of the ‘Life to the Full’ programme, it is aimed at individual teachers and schools who wish to build stronger links with their parents, particularly in the area of Relationships, Sex and Health Education.”

It’s worth recalling the account given by Dr Tom Rogers of Ten Ten’s sheepishness in presenting the full content of their RSHE curriculum, in Voice of the Family’s Digest earlier this year, particularly when it comes to parents. He wrote:

“In terms of the programme itself, I can comment only on what is actually made available to parents for ‘consultation’ purposes in their online portal. Firstly, this is not the complete set of the resources that will actually be used in the classroom, but rather an overview of the programme, with example previews, specially selected for parents. There are many presentations — and hours of video content — that teachers may use in the classroom but which parents will never get to see. They are expected to take what is not presented to them on trust. Parents have requested full access to the teachers’ suite of content, only to be informed by their children’s schools that Ten Ten will not allow them to do this for‘copyright’ or ‘licensing’ reasons. 

“When parents insist on seeing everything their children will see, the best that is offered to them is an invitation to come and view the resources on the school premises under supervision of a member of staff. This is clearly an obstacle as not all concerned parents are able or willing to come into the school and sit for hours in front of one of their computers, pouring over hours of content with an impatient teacher hovering over them.”

Dr Rogers went on to warn Voice of the Family readers, in great and most helpful detail, as follows:

“Even what is being readily presented to parents is enough to raise alarm bells for those concerned about their children receiving RSHE lessons in line with their Christian faith … In the preview, two young Ten Ten presenters, male and female, take parents on a brief tour, of what their children will learn in each module. For instance, in a session on ‘Abortion and Pregnancy’, Year 10 pupils (aged 15-16 in secondary school) are encouraged to be ‘open minded’ on abortion. The session features an overview of how abortions are performed, and both positive and negative experiences of abortion are shared so that there is ‘balance’. Dr Calum Miller then makes a range of important points about the ‘myths’ regarding abortion and here, as overall, coverage is much more weighted towards the pro-life side of the debate. 

“However, pupils would not necessarily be left with an idea of the grave sinfulness of abortion, according to Church teaching. A Year 9 session (for ages 13-14), ‘through practical knowledge and Church teaching, equips pupils to be in control of their choices regarding fertility and contraception. Pupils are introduced in a relatively positive way to the Church’s teaching on the meaning of the sexual act — for the purposes of ‘bonding’ and ‘opening themselves up to the possibility of creating new life’. Pupils, however, then learn all about different methods of artificial contraception, including their pros and cons in terms of efficacy and ease of use, via an interview with a doctor or sexual health worker, without any reference whatsoever to the Church’s teaching of the ‘intrinsic evil’ of such practices. 

“‘Emergency contraception’ is wrongly explained as being ‘taken after sex with the aim of preventing pregnancy from occurring’, without mention that one of the intended mechanisms of the Morning-After Pill is abortifacient (‘pregnancy’being implicitly defined here as beginning with implantation rather than with conception) … 

“… Fundamentally, there is no instruction on God’s positive command for married life: that is to ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it’ (Gen 1:28; 9:7). Similarly, another Year 9 session on ‘Marriage’ explores the ‘different types of committed relationships’, including co-habitation, civil partnerships and same-sex marriage, and — although ‘Sacramental marriage between two Christians’ is certainly the most comprehensively covered and positively endorsed option on offer, with some very good encouraging content — again, the positive-only message has the potential to leave pupils thinking of it as an ideal, rather than the only place for sexual relations acceptable to God. 

“The sessions in which LGBT issues are introduced and discussed are the most concerning. A Year 8 (ages 12-13) session on ‘Appreciating Difference’ looks at ‘the huge, and often negative, impact that gender stereotypes have had on our culture […] such as that a woman’s place in the home [cue pictures of 1950s housewives] or that men are more natural leaders’ [showing Hillary Clinton in debate with Donald Trump], and how ‘it’s really important that we challenge gender stereotypes’. After acknowledging that there actually are certain natural biological differences between men and women, our presenters move on ‘to talk about the ‘T’ in LGBT’. Pupils learn that ‘transgender’ people have a different ‘gender identity’ to their biological sex and that ‘some transgender people opt for medical intervention to transition from one sex to another’, and when they have ‘transitioned’ their ‘biological sex’ they are ‘known as transsexual’. The pair then passionately inform us how ‘protection of LGBT people is enshrined in law through the Equality Act of 2010’ and how ‘transgender people are protected from discrimination’, before misinforming parents and students about how ‘schools have a legal responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all pupils who identify as transgender’, which apparently ‘means adjustments such as change of uniform, or name, or pronoun’.

“Pupils are then introduced to the ‘different perspectives that are held around this topic of gender identity’ , which does include the Church’s positive teaching that ‘biological sex is fundamental to our identity’ and ‘part of the gift given to us by God’. However, pupils are consequently overall left with a series of mixed messages on the topic to negotiate, with perhaps the most powerful one being that they best obey what is (mis-)presented as the law of the land, through an overtly kind and accommodating acceptance of anyone’s chosen ‘gender identity’.  

“Most of these sessions take some time to present positively, if imperfectly, the option of being faithful to Christ and to authentic Church teaching. However, another Year 8 lesson, ‘Wider World’, about ‘discrimination’, employs every tired LGBT propaganda tool in the book to cosh children over the head with the unbiblical principle that any negative view of homosexuality, or of unrepentant practising homosexuals, is profoundly wrong and, it is implied, sinful. 

“In this session ‘pupils learn that we are called to love and respect one another as children of God with value and dignity that far surpasses our culture, race, religion, sexual orientation, choices and attitudes’. The ‘Nine Legally Protected Characteristics’ are again brought in with great moral gravity as if they had been handed down by God on Mount Sinai. ‘Choosing not to smile at someone because […] of who they’re holding hands with’ is presented as a ‘seed of prejudice’ which can lead to discrimination and ultimately, it is implied (by way of the session’s opening example), to a repeat of the Nazi holocaust. They explain that they are focusing on ‘homophobic bullying’ because apparently ‘it is rife across the UK and in schools too’.

“Parents are informed that ‘pupils then hear the real-life story of Nick from Ukraine, where same-sex civil partnership is illegal, and he and his boyfriend were even turned away from renting an apartment because of their sexuality’. So Catholics, it may seem, have a duty to support same-sex civil partnerships and could knowingly facilitate acts of sodomy. 

“There is then a series of blithely presented straw-man statements caricaturing some of the perceived myths about Catholic teaching: ‘Doesn’t the Catholic Church HATE GAYS? Don’t Catholics think it’s a SIN to be gay? Isn’t the Church against same-sex people LOVING each other?’. The ‘Answers’, of course, are ‘NO! NO! and NO!’. ‘These are good questions though,’ they explain, but they don’t have time to go into what exactly they are going to teach our children in response to them here. There is, of course, absolutely no reference at all in this presentation either to the negative consequences of homosexual acts or to the Church’s teaching on their sinfulness, so that most pupils would be impressed with the idea that we should only ever regard anything to do with ‘LGBT’ in an uncritically positive and celebratory light.”

Reflecting on Dr Rogers’s deeply disturbing description of Ten Ten’s plans for our children and grandchildren, I cannot but be deeply shocked by Bishop Stock’s bland and reprehensible assurance that: 

“The content of the curriculum is based upon the God-given dignity of each and every pupil and, through an understanding of the Virtues, teaches our children and young people to make healthy choices that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

It would be interesting to know what the Bishop of Leeds would make of St Thomas Aquinas’s view that sodomy is more than just a sin; it is a heresy, because it violates both the natural and divine law.

According to St Thomas Aquinas, if the order of reason comes from man, the order of nature comes from God himself. Therefore “in sins against nature, in which the natural order is violated, God himself is offended in his quality as the one who orders nature”. [St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-IIae,q. 154, a. 12]

No doubt the Department for Education, who created the RSHE curriculum in conjunction with Ten Ten Resources and the Catholic Education Service, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Conference of England and Wales, would never agree with St Thomas Aquinas’s thinking on this matter. It is, however, the teaching of the Catholic Church and a great moral crime for the exact opposite to be taught to Catholic children in England and Wales.