Newcastle volunteers help shape the future of ethics education

How do we help children make wise decisions in their lives today, while equipping them to be responsible leaders for tomorrow? That was one of the questions posed at the Primary Ethics conference held at the University of Newcastle on Saturday, where 60 volunteers met to workshop strategies for making ethics education available to more students in local primary schools.

Another focus of the day was to support volunteers’ professional development in their roles as facilitators and organisers of ethics classes.

Volunteers came from right across Greater Newcastle, the Central Coast, Taree and as far afield as Coffs Harbour. Some are parents, grandparents or carers of primary school aged children. Others are community-minded volunteers who have a love of learning and wish to make a big impact with an hour or two they have available to volunteer each week. Continue reading

Boost for Classroom Support

We’re delighted that Coral Sturgess has accepted the role of Classroom Support manager.

Coral, who has been a Classroom Support Team (CST) member for over 2 years, is also one of our teacher trainers, and has a wealth of experience as a high school teacher and executive, a teacher trainer for the Department of Education, and a university lecturer. Coral also teaches Primary Ethics at Woodport PS.

CoralSturgess 2018

Coral will be leading our effort to build the CST to support our ever-growing number of volunteer teachers.

Coral takes the reins from Roger Reidy, who has led the team for 6 years in an entirely voluntary capacity. For some time now Roger has been concerned that he was not able to devote the time needed to run the Classroom Support Team the way it now needs to be run. Looking for a solution to ensure the team had the support required, Roger met with me to propose that this could become a part-time employee role.

Our Board of Directors supported the proposal and approved appointing a two-day per week employee to head up the CST.  This will be a great benefit to Primary Ethics and to members of the Classroom Support Team.  Roger will remain a member of the team and looks forward to playing a part as a team member going forward, and in supporting Coral where needed.

We particularly want to thank Roger for his efforts in establishing and leading the CST, and for his commitment to continue to support our work.

We’re confident all our volunteers will welcome Coral’s efforts to give our teachers the support they deserve.

Evan Hannah CEO

& the Primary Ethics team

Smiling child with missing tooth

Ethics classes at school: Guest post

by Sandra Henri, ethics teacher

For those of you not familiar with Ethics Classes at your local public school, let me rave about them for minute. Ethics is offered as one of the scripture options, yet don’t let this fool you into thinking its a religious vs non-religious thing.

Ethics is actually about teaching critical thinking skills, in a thought provoking, non-judgement way. Each week, moral stories are discussed, and students are encouraged to consider ‘why’ they hold this opinion, and to see the story from various angles. We have a strict rule that there are to be no put-downs, and differences of opinion will be respected. This gives students an opportunity to speak out against the crowd, and think more deeply about why they might choose to act in a particular way. It teaches children to make decisions based on their own inner moral code, rather than blindly following social norms. We rarely reach a conclusion in these classes, the aim is to cultivate the thinking process.

Some examples of topics include;

  • How do we display friendship?
  • Do we stereotype without realising it?
  • Would you share with your friends vs people you don’t know?
  • Should animals be kept in captivity?
  • What is inner and outer beauty, which do you value more?
  • How can we be a conscious consumer?

Read more about ethics classes here.

I believe critical thinking is an invaluable life skill, that I wish was part of the regular curriculum! It is super rewarding hearing their wisdom expressed with so much conviction (and cuteness), and it feels like you are helping grow little activists. If you have time, I can highly recommend becoming a volunteer ethics teacher, or at the very least, jump on this free resource and get your kids involved.

Ethics classes at school first appeared on Sandra’s blog Less Stuff More Meaning.

New ethics classes in the Hunter

Students at Morpeth and Hinton Public Schools are attending ethics classes for the first time due to the efforts of parents and community members and the support of the school.

The Primary Ethics program has been running at other Maitland area schools such as Dungog and Tenambit since 2015.

Designed for primary school aged children, the classes give children a chance to develop skills in critical thinking and in making well-reasoned decisions. Volunteers are trained as ethics teachers and they facilitate the discussion using the Primary Ethics curriculum. The next two day training workshop will be held in Newcastle on April 7 and 8.

“My kids really enjoyed their first ethics class at Hinton,” said Holly Moore, mother of Violet, 9 and Banjo, 11 who were among those to take the classes for the first time this term.
Continue reading

Professor Dame Marie Bashir a guest of honour at Primary Ethics class

Professor Dame Marie Bashir is indefatigable in her grassroots support of Australian communities and last Wednesday, March 7, her attention was on ethics classes in public schools.

Despite the loss of her husband Sir Nicholas Shehadie in recent weeks, Professor Bashir continues to dedicate an incredible amount of energy and time to supporting communities build on essential areas as education, health and international relations.

Professor Bashir joined former NSW Premier Nick Greiner and his partner Carolyn Fletcher to participate in an ethics class at Marie Bashir Public School. Continue reading

Primary Ethics volunteers recognised at State Reception

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Almost 100 of Primary Ethics’ longest serving volunteers were recognised for their service to community at Government House Sydney earlier this month.

On Thursday, February 8 His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Linda Hurley hosted the reception for volunteers, some of whom travelled from across the state to attend.

In his address, the Governor extended his thanks to those invited for donating their time to teaching ethics to the children of NSW.

Continue reading

Hundreds converge to support ethics classes in NSW schools

From Byron Bay to Bungendore, Canowindra to the Central Coast, Milton to Manly, volunteers descended on the first Primary Ethics conference held at UNSW on Saturday.

Primary Ethics is a not-for-profit organisation that offers free training and curriculum to community members to deliver weekly ethics classes to children at public primary schools across the state.

Ethics classes are held at the same time as scripture and non-scripture, and give children from kindy to year 6 the opportunity to develop thinking, reasoning and decision-making skills to help them in all aspects of their life.

On Saturday, 350 teachers, coordinators and regional managers gathered to share experiences, network and develop skills in facilitating classes and managing programs that they will take back to the programs which are currently operating in 460 schools across the state and teaching ethics to 36,500 children. Continue reading

October Newsletter

Welcome to our October News. View the full version here.

Highlights

Inaugural Conference

To take stock of how far we’ve come, and to prepare our path for the future, we’re hosting our first Primary Ethics conference on Saturday October 28.

120+ Volunteers recognised across NSW

Primary Ethics volunteers help make the world a better place, and a number of our people were recently recognised for their contributions at award ceremonies across the state.

Mythbusting

What are children in non-scripture legally allowed to do in this time?

Our people

Get to know our staff, trainers and classroom support team.

PrimaryEthics@Home

If you found a koala in your backyard, does that make it your pet? Discover the latest topics from ethics classes in this e-news for parents and carers.

View the full news here.
Thank you for supporting Primary Ethics.

Nominees for NSW Volunteer of the Year Award

Congratulations to our dedicated volunteers who were nominated for the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award. Here are some who we managed to catch on camera at the recent ceremonies held across the state. Thank you all, for your time, skill and energy in delivering ethics classes to children in primary schools across NSW.

 

New CEO continues push for clarity around ethics option

Evan Hannah seeks fair and informed choice for parents

Sydney, Monday 7 August 2017

Allowing parents to make an informed choice when enrolling their children in NSW public schools is simply a matter of fairness, says incoming CEO of Primary Ethics Evan Hannah.

“In NSW you cannot enrol your child in ethics classes on the enrolment form, as you can for religious instruction,” Evan said.

“The burden is on parents to work through the current confusing process before they finally get the chance to access ethics classes for their child.”

The former journalist and news media manager became CEO of the not-for-profit organisation in July. Continue reading