Australian schoolchildren. Photo: Nicole Clements/Caritas Australia

Lower Primary

Subsidiarity and Participation

How do we contribute to a more just and fair world?

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will have explored feelings and thoughts about rules (classroom, playground, family), and considered the role of leaders and authority.

Teachers, before you start:

  1. Watch the CST ‘Subsidiarity and Participation’ film and familiarise yourself with the with the Lower Primary cartoon (found within the Learning Experience below).
  2. Download the various resources referenced at the bottom of this page (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
  3. Locate any Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the learning experience below).
  4. Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.

Learn - Focus

Teacher's Note: The Big Question for this Learning Experience may need to be rephrased for lower primary students. For example: ‘How can we live and work together well? or’ ‘What is the best way to work together?’

Students explore feelings and thoughts about rules (classroom, playground, family).

Teacher's Note: This sequence takes a two pronged approach. The principle of subsidiarity is introduced by highlighting the need for structure, rules and decisions, and the role of authority in the classroom context. The principle of participation is then explored by highlighting the role of students in decision making processes and in upholding the harmony of the classroom. The context of the classroom is used as a parallel micro level example of society that is comprised of government and citizenship.

The work of Caritas Australia is based on these two principles: That all people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Subsidiarity requires that decisions are made by the people closest and most affected by the issues and concerns of the community. Caritas Australia works with local communities to support, promote and develop their capacity in decision-making so they can better respond to their own needs.

Two options:

Option 1: If you have not already created classroom rules, use the following questions to implement and demonstrate the principles of subsidiarity and participation in your classroom as you collaboratively decide on classroom rules.

Option 2: Display/ review your list of classroom rules and reflect on the process of creating and upholding these rules.

Tune into students' understanding by discussing: Do we need rules? Why? Who decides what the rules are? Who follows the rules?

Explain God wants us to live happily and safely together, but for that to happen, we all need to work together. Groups of people work together better when they agree on the best way to do it. This is true for adults and children!

We are all part of one global family.
We are all part of one global family.

Learn - Explore

Students consider the role of leaders and authority.

Discuss the role of the teacher: Whose job it to make sure everyone felt safe and included?

Explain that it is their job to care for people and uphold structures that are fair and that make sure people are looked after. True leadership is servant hood. This is the subsidiarity component. It explores how it is the leader’s/teacher’s job to ensure rules are safe and fair so that everyone can participate and do their best.

Discuss rule making process: Who makes the classroom rules? How are they made? Did your teacher talk to you about them? Why or why not?

Sometimes there are people who are the leaders, and who make the rules.

In the classroom, it the teacher’s or leaders job to make sure everyone is looked after. But, it’s not always okay for the leaders to make decisions without talking to the people who will be affected by them. They also have to make sure that everyone- not just the most popular, loud or biggest person is looked after.

Students consider their own roles

The second part, the participation component relates to principles of citizenship. It is explored through the idea of the students in the class (the role of citizenship).

Discuss: What is your job as a student? Do you have to follow the rules? Why?

Explain how as a student in the classroom it is your job to play safely, think of others, follow the rules, cooperate, and talk to the teacher when this doesn’t happen- ie. When the rules are not working so well!

As part of the group, it’s not okay to just let someone else do all the work! We all have to pitch it so that we can live and work safely and happily together.

Display the Subsidiarity and Participation of Lower Primary cartoon vignette.


Read the titles together as a class

Discuss: What does it show? Who is in the illustration?

Explain that there are both adults and children in the picture. Why might this be?

Teacher's Note: It is the cooperative effort of leaders(teachers) and citizens (students) to work together to make the world (classroom) a good place for everyone to be in.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.


Students draw a picture and or write about one way they can work and play safely together in the classroom, playground or home.

Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.
Learn about the CST with Caritas Australia.


Explore and take up God’s invitation to show his love to others - to love and care for myself and others

Write a class prayer asking God for help to co-operate and work well together.