A Message from the Chair
Welcome to the first quarterly newsletter for 2017. Whether you are a parent, volunteer, donor or supporter (or a combination), you each play an important role in providing children in our community with special education in ethics. Thank you for giving children this opportunity.
We’ve seen a number of new ethics programs get underway in schools this year. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a program become established at a school. It’s also a lot of work; liaising with the school and the parent community, finding suitable volunteers and assisting them through their induction and training. Although ably assisted by our volunteering managers Maria McCarthy and Rob Harden, much of this work is picked up and initiated by supporters, parents and volunteers. And of course when it comes to our training courses, it wouldn’t be possible without our donors.
We are appreciative of the principals and other school staff who work enthusiastically alongside our volunteers to run a successful ethics program for their students. Unfortunately though, unnecessary obstacles are placed in the way of families wishing to access ethics education. Religious instruction remains the default enrolment until a parent exempts their child. And the current Department of Education implementation procedures limit the information that parents and carers can receive on the secular options until after their child has been opted out, and even then, nothing needs to be mentioned about ethics if a program is yet to be established at the school – a classic Catch 22.
We are constantly appealing to the State Government to urgently address this inequality and allow parents to make a simple choice on one form between Scripture, Ethics or neither.
It’s encouraging to see new programs starting up right across Greater Sydney and NSW including Bass Hill, Carlton South, Ellison, Halliday’s Point, Hurstville Grove, Lake Illawarra South, Leumeah, Lugarno, Milperra, Mortdale, Pacific Palms, Parramatta, Winston Hills, Wagga, Warners Bay and The Grange. A number of other schools are set to launch in term 2.
Infill growth is also building, with many schools now offering the full k – 6 ethics program, and an increasing number have places available to every child whose parents have chosen ethics.
With our policies, procedures, training and curriculum all well established now the biggest challenge to ethics classes being an option for the estimated 100,000 children not attending ethics or scripture is attracting volunteer teachers and coordinators for every school.
Please enjoy this edition of the Primary Ethics Quarterly News and thank you for your ongoing support,
2017 LAUNCH OF PRIMARYETHICS@HOME
We’ve created an information hub for parents and carers! It provides an introduction to the Primary Ethics program. Parents and carers are invited also to subscribe to receive the primaryethics@home email. With a frequency of six editions per year, primaryethics@home is sent to parents when new topic pages are uploaded to the website. The topic pages explain what their child will be discussing in class. Meet the characters from the stories, read the background to the topics, get stuck into activities or further reading.
Children in ethics class often say they enjoy talking to their parents about the things they discuss in ethics, and primaryethics@home is designed to help continue the conversation. If a parent or carer has nominated ethics for their child but are on a waitlist, they may find the content interesting too.
RETIREES RECOGNISED FOR CONTRIBUTION TO ETHICS EDUCATION
Our latest volunteer survey shows that the number of volunteers in their 60s is increasing. This is a combination of grandparents embracing the opportunity to engage in a meaningful way in their grandchildren’s school, and retirees looking for ways to contribute to their communities via skilled volunteering.
Seniors card ran an article about volunteering for Primary Ethics in their statewide newsletter in mid January. This was followed by a feature in the Sydney Morning Herald, and a radio interview on 2UE. It’s fantastic to see volunteers receive recognition. Thank you to the retirees who contribute their time to the organisation, and for those brave individuals who have shared their stories with the media in the name of promoting awareness of ethics education!
SHARING LEARNING ADVENTURES WITH SYDNEY STORY FACTORY
Primary Ethics has recently buddied up with Sydney Story Factory. Both oganisations work to assist children form and express their ideas and harness the skills and enthusiasm of volunteers to do so . While in ethics education, this happens through facilitated discussion with their classmates, Sydney Story Factory runs creative-writing workshops for children. Sydney Story Factory also seeks volunteers to work as mentors, which might be another opportunity for our supporters and volunteers. Visit www.sydneystoryfactory.org.au.
2017 Curriculum Review
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.
WIN! DOUBLE PASS TO IQ2: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
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.
The Ethics Centre has generously donated a double pass for a Primary Ethics supporter. Email your name and contact phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm 15 March to go in the draw.
Note: New venue IQ2 is now held at the Sydney Town Hall.
The Ethics Centre also offers Primary Ethics volunteers and supporters a members’ discount to this event- a saving of $10 per adult ticket – or a discount on a season pass. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.
To apply your member discount, enter PRIMARYETHICS as the promo code at Eventbrite checkout.
Activist? Diplomat? What’s your decision-making style?
It really helps with your personal confidence to know that your opinion is valued in ethics class, and that everyone will be kind to you.
Zippy, year 6 ethics student
Feel free to forward this newsletter to a friend, or share on social media using the icons below.
Donations to Primary Ethics are tax deductible.