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Curriculum for Life in KS4 builds on the themes and topics of the KS3 programme. It is delivered in the tutorial period by form tutors twice per week in Year 10 and once per week in Year 11. There are a variety of outside speakers who deliver to our students during assemblies on different topics at different points in the year.

The themes covered in the programme in Year 10 are:

  • Well-being: My Healthy Life
  • Community: My Place at Thornleigh
  • Futures: Building my Future
  • Character: Developing Myself
  • RSE: Myself and others
  • Global Citizenship: Me and the World.

The themes covered in the programme in Year 11 are:

  • Well-being: My Healthy Life
  • Futures: Building my Future
  • Character: Developing Myself
  • RSE: Myself and others

For statutory RSE elements of the Curriculum for Life programme we follow the Life to the Full Catholic programme of study. Life to the Full teaches Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) within the context of a Christian understanding of human sexuality rooted in the wisdom and teaching of the Catholic Church. The  teaching includes lessons on puberty, personal hygiene, fertility, menstruation, family and friends, sexual intimacy, delaying sex, an understanding of the body, sexuality, marriage, gender, online relationships, social media, consent, grooming, pressure, STIs, contraception, natural family planning, abortion, miscarriage, the effect of drugs and alcohol on relationships, pornography and sexual exploitation. The programme is fully inclusive of all students.

Year 10

Session 1: Authentic Freedom

Through a film where a young couple explore issues such as peer pressure, virginity, love, sex and responsibility, this session discusses the objective reality of sex: pregnancy and chemical bonding between two people. A common belief is that ‘personal freedom is doing what you want as long as no one gets harmed’, but this session holds up an alternative perspective: that making a loving gift of self is an ideal worth holding out for, one which leads to authentic freedom.

Session 3: Beliefs, Values, Attitudes

Through a film where a young man experiences an internal moral battle and the story of executed anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl, this session reveals the importance of knowing our own beliefs, values and attitudes so that we are not at risk of making decisions which go against them. Pupils will be given the chance to interrogate their own core values and consider how faith can give us the courage to stand up for what we believe in.

Session 4: Parenthood

Following after a film where a teenage girl has a blazing row with her Dad and realises she had been taking him for granted, this session considers what it means to be a parent, including issues such as love, dedication, obligation, commitment, sacrifice and a lifetime of responsibility. Marriage is positioned as the ideal foundation for parenthood and family life, and God as our unconditionally loving Father.

Session 5: Pregnancy and Abortion

In this session, pupils are encouraged to develop their own values and attitudes towards abortion, based on teaching about the stages of life in the womb, abortion myths busted by a medical expert, the Church’s teaching and different accounts of people who have experienced abortion (note that students might find some of these difficult to hear). Pregnancies of all kinds, including unplanned and involving disability, are positioned as invitations to respond with love to the gift of life.

Session 6: Abuse

This session unpacks different types of abuse (physical, emotional, domestic and neglect), which are all incompatible with an understanding of innate human dignity. The session also touches on topics such as entrapment, manipulation, sexual grooming, cyberbullying and pornography. Pupils will learn that people are not things to be used but uniquely precious persons to be loved and cherished, that we should remain vigilant to abuse in our own/others’ relationships and that victims of abuse should always be encouraged to speak out and access support.

Session 7: Solidarity

Through a drama where a teenager wonders if their small act of charity can possibly make a difference on a wider scale, this session explores the Catholic Social Teaching principle of ‘integral ecology’, where dignity, human rights and concern for the poor are intertwined with a concern for nature, the environment and the whole of creation. Pupils will be challenged to live wisely, think deeply and love generously in order to live in solidarity and peace with God’s creation.

Year 11

Session 1: Self-Worth

In this Year 11 programme, Nathan and Mairi introduce different people each week who share their own stories and insight. This first session shows two young people, Torema and Joseph, sharing individually about how they experienced a lack of self-respect and dignity as a result of their formative experiences, and then had a lightbulb moment (conversion) through which they began to see their true value. This session invites pupils to consider how they respect themselves and others, and the role God can play within that.

Session 2: Addiction

In this session, pupils hear the story of Dina, who overcame severe drug addiction through the help of family, community, responsibility and faith. Pupils will learn through her story and discussion activities that the pull of short-term highs is strong, but that maturity and growth happens through appreciating one’s own life as a gift and learning to make a gift of oneself to others. Mairi and Nathan invite pupils to consider their own patterns or tendencies towards addiction, because being aware about our own addictions can help us to be more patient and honest with ourselves and others.

Session 3: Eating Disorders

In this session, Mairi and Nathan introduce two people, Sarah and James, who both suffered with poor emotional health when they were growing up, which led to an eating disorder. James and Sarah have now come through their difficult experiences and speak with great insight about their past emotional and physical struggles. Through their stories and classroom discussion, pupils will learn that gaining insight into oneself is a key to well-being. This session invites pupils to consider their own deepest needs and the complexities and contradictions within themselves.

Session 5: Pornography

This session looks at ‘adult content’ in an adult way: asking questions about how it affects people’s behaviour, how it affects the way people think about themselves, others and their relationships. Mairi and Nathan introduce Isaac and Charlotte, who speak frankly and honestly about their own struggles with pornography. The ultimate takeaway for pupils is that sexual desire is powerful: making it a part of authentic love is a lifelong challenge and responsibility, but one that leads to maturity and fulfilment.

Session 6: STIs

In this session, pupils meet Bobbi, who was raised in East London with strong Indian cultural values. She describes how she felt torn between two worlds: wanting to push boundaries, but also feeling a lot of pressure to not bring shame on her culture, her community and her family. This led to a lot of risky behaviours, including promiscuity, drug misuse and addiction, various Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and two abortions. Through Bobbi’s story, activities and discussions, pupils will consider how the reality of STIs connects to deeper questions about sexual choices and consequences, and how to rethink behaviour that causes harm.

Session 7: Coercive Control

In this final session of the Year 11 programme, Mairi and Nathan explain how we are a social species: isolation is not in our nature. Our longing for intimate, exclusive relationships is a beautiful thing, but one that can make us vulnerable. The final interviewee is Annabel, who shares about her own journey of looking for love. Through Annabel’s story, pupils will be able to consider what is meant by coercive control and how this type of abusive relationship can develop. They will also be able to discuss issues such as rape, victim-blaming, sexism and misogyny.