Long awaited report shows ethics program strong

Report coverMedia Release Tuesday 11 April 2017

UPDATE: Primary Ethics has submitted to the Department of Education a response to the report’s recommendations. View the Primary Ethics Response to SRE and SEE in NSW Government Schools Review.

Department rejects recommendations to make it easier for parents to know it’s an option.

Earlier today the Department of Education released the report of the 2015 review of Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics in NSW Government Schools.

The NSW Government commissioned the review in 2014 and the long awaited report was published on education.nsw.gov.au on 11 April 2017 along with the Department response to the recommendations.

The report states that Primary Ethics has created a high quality curriculum which is pedagogically effective. The report compliments Primary Ethics volunteer training and authorisation processes:

  • Initial training for all SEE teachers have been implemented as intended, with evidence that all training modules are being delivered and that SEE teachers participate in these before taking their first class. The training covers the intended content and appropriate range of topics, and this appears to prepare SEE teachers about child protection requirements and gives them a good understanding of the curriculum content and scope.
  • The authorisation process for the SEE curriculum is working smoothly and has produced a high quality curriculum
  • Primary Ethics has a comprehensive and robust process in place to authorise suitable volunteers

Excerpt from 2015 SRE/SEE Review

Thirty-four of the report’s recommendations relate to the Department. These include: reviewing the SRE and SEE implementation procedures, assessing the suitability of the current enrolment form and that schools should make information on SEE and SRE more publically available.

The Department has indicated from its response that it will be rejecting around a third of the recommendations.

Among the rejected recommendations, recommendation 5, is an assessment of the enrolment form that was remodelled in October 2015 to remove the ethics tick box. The form continues to only provide the option to enrol in Special Religious Education.

Another of the rejected recommendations is that:
7. The Department makes clear on all information materials relating to SRE participation that parents have the right to withdraw their child from SRE.

SRE providers have been given 16 recommendations, relating primarily to curriculum quality, ensuring use of approved materials and making curriculum information available. These recommendations have been earmarked for discussion at a SRE consultative committee meeting.

Six recommendations relate to SEE, including a recommendation that volunteer teachers would benefit from more personalised mentoring and learning development. Primary Ethics is preparing responses in preparation for an SEE consultative committee meeting scheduled for May.“We are pleased that the report recognised the high quality of our curriculum and the robustness of our volunteer recruitment processes,” said Primary Ethics CEO Leonie Johnson. “Although we are disappointed that the Department does not support the recommendation to review the existing enrolment form. Primary Ethics will work hard to assist parents, carers and schools to access and distribute information about ethics education in accordance with the current Special Education in Ethics Implementation Procedures. We also hope we will be able to contribute to the reviewing and improving the clarity of the Ethics Implementation Procedures; a recommendation that the Department has agreed to in principle,” Ms Johnson said.


End of release

Media enquiries:

Heidi McElnea, Communications Manager, Primary Ethics
02 8068 7752 or 0420 514 653 communications@primaryethics.com.au

About Primary Ethics:
Established in 2010, Primary Ethics provides ethics education for children in NSW public schools. Primary Ethics has developed a comprehensive volunteer teacher training program and created a structured curriculum designed for Kindy to Year 6. Now over 2500 well trained community volunteers deliver ethics classes in 440 schools. The weekly classes are conducted during the Special Religious Education/ Special Education in Ethics timeslot. Children from any religious background, or from none at all, are invited to participate. In ethics classes children learn how to think critically for themselves and respectfully discuss ethical issues. They acquire analytical and communication skills that will be of lifelong benefit to them, in both their public and private lives.

* This post was originally published with the heading ‘Long awaited report revealed’