What the NSW government does not want you to know about ethics classes

A recommendation of the NSW government’s recent Committee of Inquiry into ethics classes is that parents should first receive a letter asking them to choose between SRE classes or ‘non-scripture’, and that only those choosing the latter option will receive a letter offering the option of ethics classes.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/opting-out-of-religion-only-way-in-to-ethics-20121204-2atad.html

This means that parents are not made aware of the full range of options for their child.

The following information is for any parents who would like to be fully informed. Please pass this on to other parents.

Parents who want their child to attend ethics classes in 2013 need to follow these simple steps:

At schools that offer ethics classes:
1. Opt out of SRE by selecting the ‘non-scripture’ option
2. Once you have opted out of SRE you will receive communication about the option to attend ethics classes.

Classes available will be dependent on the age of your child and volunteers prepared to teach and co-ordinate the classes. The ethics class curriculum is not yet available for K-2, but classes are available for years 3-4 and 5-6. At most schools, parents will not receive any information about ethics classes until they opt out of SRE (as the school Principal is following the recommendation from the Inquiry).

At schools that do not offer ethics classes:
1. Approach the school’s Principal so a letter can be written to parents to determine parental interest in offering ethics classes.
2. Encourage the Principal to put details in the school newsletter.
3. Source parental support for ethics class teachers and co-ordinators.
4. Contact Primary Ethics at www.primaryethics.com.au for more details.

Further background information if needed:

The curriculum at all NSW public primary schools includes a period of time for special religious education (SRE). SRE classes are provided by faith groups and attendance is optional. For some years, children not attending SRE were prohibited (by NSW government policy) from undertaking any educational activity during this period, and instead would read, watch TV etc (‘non-scripture’). In late 2010, this situation was changed, and children who opt out of SRE can now choose to attend special education in ethics classes instead. Ethics classes can now be made available at any NSW public primary schools where there is sufficient demand and volunteer coordinator and teachers. The classes are currently offered to children in years 3 to 6 at over 200 public primary schools in NSW. They will be offered to stage 1 from mid 2013 and kindergarten mid 2014.