Long awaited report shows ethics program strong

Report coverMedia Release Tuesday 11 April 2017

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’

Four reasons why ethics teachers won’t give your child a treat this Easter

Ethics classes are run in NSW public schools by parents, grandparents and other trained volunteers from the school community. The classes are held in the Special Religious Education/ Special Education in Ethics timeslot, and exist as a valuable learning opportunity for children whose parents have opted them out of SRE.

In the lead up to Easter, we sometimes hear that it’s not fair that children in ethics class miss out on the chocolate eggs and other Easter-themed treats that are handed out in some of the religious instruction classes.

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Out now: PrimaryEthics@Home

For parents and carers | First edition | March 2017

2 kidsWelcome to PrimaryEthics@Home! This first edition for 2017 introduces the topics covered in ethics classes in term 1, plus gives background reading and activities designed to help further ethical discussion with your children at home.

Every day parents, families and teachers help children form their own opinions about ethical issues. Other factors, like media and culture, have an influence too. In ethics classes, children can articulate their ideas and explore ethical issues together by listening to each other, discussing respectfully and applying critical thinking skills like using reason and evidence and evaluating arguments.

Our skills based program is designed to support the important work of parents and teachers by giving children the confidence and skills to talk about ethical issues with those around them. These are important life-long skills aimed at helping children make well considered decisions rather than acting out of habit or peer pressure.

Continue reading primaryethics@home.

Parents need all options at once

Media Release Friday 10 March 2017 

Creating a level playing field for Ethics and Special Religious Education in NSW Schools.

Department of Education policy instructs NSW public primary schools to make available a weekly Special Religious Education (SRE) and Special Education in Ethics (SEE) timeslot.

Last December the Department of Education released its new guide for schools instructing them on how to manage enrolments in SRE and Ethics in the 2017 school year.

Below is the flowchart designed to explain how SRE and SEE enrolments should be managed. This flowchart is part of the support materials the department supplies to assist schools to comply with the Religious Education Policy and Special Education in Ethics Policy.

In 2017 it is not an easy process. Instead of the clear form that parents used to get that clearly showed them what the options were for their child; namely a scripture option, the ethics option or supervised free time, there is now a complicated process that creates confusion, effectively hides the ethics option and adds extra admin for schools.

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Newsletter – March 2017

Welcome to the March edition of Primary Ethics News

View the full newsletter here.

From the chair

In this edition, Bruce Hogan announces some of the schools launching new ethics programs this term and calls for equal choice for parents and carers.

New! PrimaryEthics@Home

Take a first look at the new PrimaryEthics@Home information hub for parents and carers. Sign up to receive notification of new topics.


This year our ethics teachers teach from the 2017 curriculum. This is our ‘odd year’ curriculum which is undergoing review, including feedback from ethics teachers, since it was last taught in 2015. Each stage of  the curriculum is taught in
alternate years, so that no child repeats a topic in their seven years of ethics classes.

With 25% of our volunteers now over 60, we recognise the contribution of retirees and grandparents to ethics education. This has been recognised in the media recently too!

Win a double pass | Discounts to IQ2 Debate

The 2017 IQ2 season kicks off on March 28 with debate on the topic Political Correctness has Failed Itself. Speakers for the affirmative are Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Chris Kenny. Tasneem Chopra and Mikey Robins bring up the negative. Win a double pass or access your discount code here.


The Ethics Centre seeks testers for a new decision-making app named Waymaker, that guides users though an ethical decision making process and gives them insight into what their ethical position is.



A little volunteering role with big returns

Media Release Thursday 12 January 2017 


It’s not guaranteed to make a person lose weight or get fit, but volunteering to teach ethics to children satisfies a number of other common New Year’s resolutions such as learning new skills, meeting new people and giving back to the community.

Primary Ethics is seeking volunteers to teach ethics in public primary schools across NSW. The not-for-profit was established in 2010 to give parents and carers the option of ethics education for their children. Currently 32,000 children receive ethics education. Bruce Hogan, Chair of Primary Ethics, wants to see that number grow.

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Newsletter – October 2016

Welcome to the October edition of Primary Ethics news.

Whether you’re a volunteer, donor, parent, or general supporter of ethics education, we are exceptionally happy to have you on board!

In this edition, our Chair Bruce Hogan introduces our new director and new website.

We report back from Regional Training and the recent public forum on ethics education in Newcastle.

Congratulations are also in order for our volunteers, including a nomination for volunteer of the year.

Plus you could win a double pass to the next IQ2 event ‘Privacy is not for Children’ which promises to be a hearty debate.

Read the full newsletter  Add me to your mailing list.

Media Release 11 October 2016

Ready for big school: New website schools parents on ethics class option

As parents and carers around the state prepare their four and five year olds for ‘big school’, charity Primary Ethics has launched a new website to help ease the enrolment process.

Since the option for ethics classes was removed from the Department of Education enrolment form last year, it has become difficult for parents and carers to opt for ethics classes, with only a box provided in which to nominate the student’s religion. Continue reading

Public Forum: Ethics in the Classroom

WEDNESDAY October 12, 6pm, Souths Leagues Club Merewether (Newcastle) 

What? Public Forum: Ethics in the classroom – lessons from the first five years.
When? 6.00 – 7.30pm, Wednesday 12st October 2016
Where? Souths Leagues Club, Merewether
Who? Open to the general public. Admission $5 donation
Contact: Speakers are available to the media (Contact Ross 0401 522875)

Newcastle was among the first regions to roll out the Primary Ethics program in 2011. What have we learned since then?

Newcastle Ethics Classes

Ethics class in action at Hunter School Of The Performing Arts

In the next public forum hosted by local think-tank the Newcastle Institute we’ll be discussing the growth of philosophical ethics in the classroom and the challenges and rewards of implementing the Primary Ethics program.
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