Giving parents a choice in education
Last year, the Government backed the wishes of parents and introduced ethics classes as an alternative to scripture in schools.
No-one can seriously argue that it’s unreasonable for children who don’t attend scripture to be offered an alternative. But that’s what Barry O’Farrell and the Opposition did last year, right up until their recent embarrassing backflip.
When the Opposition failed to back ethics classes last year, Labor acted to protect them by law.
The message we received loud and clear from parents was that they should have the right to choose what is best for their child, and Labor delivered.
When we released an independent report into ethics for public comment we found overwhelming support for ethics - out of 745 submissions, only 15 were against.
But no one should forget that when the Government listened to parents, the Coalition didn’t. When we stood up for choice, the Coalition didn’t - and when we acted to protect it, the Coalition didn’t.
The government strongly supports the important role of Special Religious Education (SRE) – commonly known as scripture - in NSW public schools. The provision of SRE is enshrined in the Education Act 1990, and we have no plans to change that.
Attendance of the ethics-based course for students who do not attend SRE will be a decision that is entirely up to parents.
This is not about competing with scripture. Ethics is a choice for parents who have already chosen not to send their child to special religious education.
As we’ve said all along, ethics classes will operate on the same footing as scripture and it’s up to parents to choose whether their children attend either.
Both ethics and scripture are optional, and both are run by volunteers.
Labor believes it’s up to parents, not politicians, to make these choices on behalf of their children.
Schools can now opt to offer the ethics course following consultation with their school community.
The classes will initially be offered to students in Years 5 and 6 students and will be progressively made available to all students from Kindergarten to Year 6.
Tags: Barry O'Farrell
, ethics classes
, Liberal Party
, Verity Firth