May 2021 Volunteer bulletin

Volunteer fun facts | Curriculum feedback | Kindy survey results | Logging your unavailability in EVIE | Post-lesson check-ins | More…

We’re more than halfway through Term 2 and hope you’re enjoying your weekly ethics discussions with your students.

Last week was National Volunteer Week, which we celebrated across our social media. Did you know you help to make us one of the biggest organisations in the state powered by active volunteers? Some fun facts about Primary Ethics volunteers: the oldest is 85, the youngest is 18 and the biggest group (80% of you) are in the 30-50 age bracket. Huge thanks to you all for finding the time and enthusiasm for ethics every week.

Here’s the ethics team at Arncliffe Public School in Sydney’s south enjoying a Volunteer Week celebration together last week.



We always welcome your feedback, questions and photos. For those who do Facebook, please join in on our Primary Ethics volunteer group – and don’t forget to keep an eye on your local district Chatter group in EVIE.

Curriculum: a never-ending story
A big thank you to all those who provide us with feedback on the Primary Ethics lesson materials. We can assure you that all your feedback is taken into consideration and that we are constantly working to update, improve and keep the curriculum fresh:

  1. Compliments are noted and used to inform ongoing development. It really helps if we know what worked well so we can provide more of the same.
  2. Simple issues like typos, broken links or out of date facts will be fixed asap. This may include revising instructions to teachers to update activities that didn’t run smoothly.
  3. Feedback on bigger issues like the amount of content to cover or scenarios that are too easy or too difficult are fed into the next scheduled review of the topic.

The best place to leave your feedback is in EVIE, using the Help & Feedback tab.
This month we’ve updated a number of topics, most significantly:

  • Stage 3 (O) Topic 2: Punishment. We provided follow-up questions for this lesson to steer students away from discussing karma, as it was felt it wasn’t appropriate to let the discussion focus on a religious belief (especially as most students are not referring to the religious meaning but are using the term in a colloquial sense).
  • Early Stage 1 Topic 2: Secret/surprise. This lesson now refers to a ‘surprise’ rather than a ‘safe secret’, as a number of teachers reported that they felt uncomfortable discussing whether or not it is okay to keep some secrets. They were concerned that they didn’t have sufficient time in the lesson to explore when a secret was a safe secret. A ‘surprise’, on the other hand, fits the Department of Education explanation of a safe secret and students are very likely to already be familiar with the concept.

Kindy survey results
Thank you to everyone who responded to the teacher survey last month about the updated lesson materials for Kindy. Here’s what you told us:

  • There was overwhelming support for the additional circuit breakers and physical movement incorporated into the stories. Some teachers wanted even more and some said they didn’t always use the circuit breaker due to time pressures, lack of space or just because they felt the students didn’t need a break at that point. Of course, that is absolutely fine – teachers are best placed to know when to use a circuit breaker.
  • There was also a lot of support for the new line drawings replacing photos. The line drawings allow us to present a consistent illustration style and keep printing costs to a fraction of the cost of printing photos. Not surprisingly, those who have access to a SmartBoard or bring their own ipad were happier with the colour images, but it was also mentioned that the subject of the image was clearer in the line drawings and students were not distracted by background details. Several teachers were keen to see the same types of images extended to other stages.
  • We asked about the need for variety versus consistency in the character sets. Our plan was to re-use the main set of characters throughout the year, so that students became familiar with them and didn’t have to take brain space working out who was who and what their relationship was. Teachers generally reported that they thought their students would prefer more variety – perhaps using a different character set for each term, as they said the students got bored with the same old characters. (Some teachers said never mind the students – they, the teacher, were getting bored with the same characters. Others said the kids had no trouble coping with lots of different characters, but that they, the teacher, found it hard to keep up).
  • Several teachers commented that they’d like to see more diversity in the character sets. This remains our intention and we have a variety of new characters mapped out, but we are still working on finding a consistent way of representing these characters without obvious stereotypes. This is ongoing work.

Remember, your feedback is always welcome, look for the Help & Feedback button at the top of your EVIE landing page.

Welcome to all our new teachers and programs!

Congratulations to Amy and Annemarie, the very first Primary Ethics teachers at Mullaway Primary on the mid north coast. They report that they’ve had a very positive reception from parents, staff and students and hope to see more volunteers join them to meet the growing demand for ethics classes at the school.


Congratulations as well to Therese, who told us on LinkedIn that she facilitated her first ethics class last week and saidKeeping 22 six and seven year olds focused and inquisitive is a little more difficult than focusing your average boardroom …  I can’t wait for the next lesson!”

We love it when you share your photos and stories with us and also with your social media networks – please keep them coming.



Clever EVIE

  • Teachers: Did you know that if you’re going to be unavailable for some of your lessons, you can log that in  EVIE and EVIE Chatter will automatically publish the dates for eligible relief teachers? We’ve written a guide to doing this. Read it here and bookmark it for the future >>
  • Ethics coordinators: We’ve made a change in EVIE so that when a new volunteer for your school has finished onboarding and is ready to teach, EVIE will automatically email you, asking you to assign a class to that teacher.

We hope to keep making updates like this that make processes simpler and more streamlined.

Supporting students with additional needs
Thanks to all the teachers who replied to our survey last month. Your comments have given us a better understanding of the mix of students in ethics classes and the range of support provided by schools – ranging from no support to very helpful.
We know that the number of students with additional learning and support needs in NSW public schools is growing at an exponential rate. We appreciate all your efforts to deliver the best experience to every child in your class and understand how challenging that can feel at times.
Primary Ethics has undertaken to work with the Department of Education to provide more training and support resources to ethics teachers. We’ll keep you updated as this unfolds.


It’s National Reconciliation Week, with the theme More than a word. Reconciliation takes action. One simple action is to acknowledge country and find out more about whose country you are on. This map of Indigenous Australia is a useful starting point >>



Volunteer of the year nominations
Is there someone in your school team you think is an exceptional volunteer? Nominate them for recognition in the 2021 Volunteer of the Year Awards, open until July.

Post-class check-in
None of us can take a simple phone call these days without getting a customer satisfaction survey afterwards. We know it’s irritating (‘how did we do delivering your parcel today?’ You delivered it – isn’t that what your entire business is designed to do?!)
Nevertheless, our post-class reports are something different. They give us real feedback on how many ethics lessons were given on any one day across the state. They also act as a very valuable barometer for how the program is working and how you, the teachers, are going. We really need to hear from you.
Every week on the day of your scheduled lessons, you should receive an email with a link to the fastest check-in ever about how it went. You will receive separate email links for each lesson you teach, at each school you teach at. We’ve now enabled EVIE to recognise if you teach a composite class.
If you don’t get these post-class report email links, please get in touch with us now:
Please do your report each week. Without this info, we can’t know exactly what’s going on with our very big, statewide program and we can’t tailor our support to those who need it most.

Thank you so much for everything you bring to Primary Ethics.
The Primary Ethics team