Ethics class proving to be popular

The number of students taking part in primary ethics classes as an alternative to religious education is increasing at some schools in the region with Orange Public School being the latest to introduce the elective program.

The course is currently an option at Orange, Millthorpe, Nashdale, Bletchington and Calare public schools.

However, at least one primary school ethics coordinator is frustrated that a recently released and long-awaited review into Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics has not included a provision for ethics to be included on enrolment forms. 

Millthorpe Public School ethics coordinator and teacher Darrin Yates welcomed the report saying it highlights the recent growth in ethics class participation and that parents want more ethics classes to be provided.

He said the course was not about teaching children what to think but how to think and was worthwhile for all students, whether they attended Christian scripture or not.

Mr Yates started the ethics program at the school with eight students in 2014 but now 110 of the school’s 287 students are taking part in the course and the number of trained volunteers has increased from just him, to having four teachers.

Despite the increase at the school, he said he would like the option to be included on forms to make it easier for parents at schools where it is provided. 

“As a parent of children at a public school it is unacceptable that the government does not give ethics equal standing on the school enrolment form as religious instruction,” Mr Yates said.

“If parents have an equal choice, which they do, why is the government not promoting that choice equally?”

Primary Ethics Central West regional manager Sue Moffatt said ethics was still in the early stages in Orange so the report would not have the same effect as it would in Sydney where it is more popular.

In this region she said the course was strong at Nashdale and Calare and after starting among kindergarten students at Orange Public School last year, the number of ethics classes has increased.