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                    [post_content] => 

Parents need a fair and informed choice, writes incoming CEO of Primary Ethics Evan Hannah.

Allowing parents to make an informed choice when enrolling their children in NSW public schools is simply a matter of fairness. But in NSW, you cannot enrol your child in ethics classes on the enrolment form, as you can for religious instruction.

The burden is on parents to work through the current confusing process before they finally get the chance to access ethics classes for their child.

I became involved with ethics education as a volunteer ethics coordinator three years ago at my son’s school in Sydney’s inner west. As an ethics coordinator, I’ve seen that the unfair approach to enrolment into ethics classes continues to frustrate parents and school staff alike.

The government has made it as difficult as possible for parents to access ethics classes for their children. It rejected recommendations from an independent report for parents to be provided with better access to information and enrolment opportunities, and it cannot explain why that is fair or reasonable.

Quite simply, we just seek equal treatment for all parents. We’ll continue to work with the Department of Education to streamline the enrolment process for both parents and school staff.

Who is Primary Ethics?

Primary Ethics was established in 2010 at the request of the NSW Government to provide ethics education for children in NSW public schools. From 1,530 students in the first year of classes, Primary Ethics is now taught to more than 36,000 students by 2,500 volunteers in weekly classes at 450 schools across NSW.

An ethics program is launched at a new school approximately every 10 days, but the government enrolment policy is a huge impediment to fulfilling the Primary Ethics goal of offering the program to the rest of the estimated 70,000 students who are currently spending one lesson a week in the holding pattern of ‘non-scripture’.

The continuing confusion about enrolments obviously affects our growth. We know when one school decides to start Primary Ethics classes, and we train volunteers who then begin teaching, it has a domino effect on nearby schools as awareness grows. Removing the ridiculous block on informed choice would give more NSW children a chance to learn skills to make better decisions.

Public support for an ethics-based complement to Special Religious Education (SRE), began in the early 2000s and culminated in an amendment to the NSW Education Act in 2010 to enable Special Education in Ethics (SEE) classes to be delivered alongside religious instruction during the designated timeslot.

This was significant, because it was the first time since 1866 that children who did not take scripture could instead take part in an activity of benefit to the child, instead of effectively doing nothing.

Until 2010, the Education Act mandated that children who did not attend scripture could not undertake any learning during this timeslot to ensure that children receiving religious instruction did not miss out.

Discussion-based ethics classes are facilitated by trained local volunteers using a curriculum written by specialist in philosophy and education, Dr Sue Knight, and reviewed by both an internal committee and the Department of Education. The stage 3 (years 5 & 6) lesson materials were completed in 2011, the first year that the ethics program was rolled out. A new stage-based curriculum was developed each year, and from 2015, the program has been available for delivery across all primary-school stages, from kindergarten to year 6.    

We now have an excellent, world-first ethics curriculum available free for communities to use to educate their children. And thanks to donations, we are also able to provide recruitment, screening, and free training and support for volunteers willing to be involved in delivering those lessons.

Primary Ethics is the sole provider of ethics classes in NSW. The free program is taught by trained volunteers following a curriculum written for various primary school stages, covering years K-6. The curriculum is approved as age-appropriate by the Department of Education. Evan Hannah is a former journalist and news media manager who became CEO of the not-for-profit organisation in July.

 

 
                    [post_title] => Schools: we need clarity around the ethics option
                    [post_excerpt] => Parents need a fair and informed choice, writes Evan Hannah.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24061" align="alignnone" width="300"]mark scott Scott has delivered a lesson in political survival.[/caption]

 

You could call it the ultimate lesson in political survival: former Australian Broadcasting Corporation chief Mark Scott has been named as the new Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Education, a move certain lead to more major reforms at the giant organisation.

The appointment is being billed by NSW Premier Mike Baird as a continuation of a push to recruit top leaders from both the corporate and public sectors to the highest ranks of the public service – and it effectively scotches speculation that Mr Scott left the ABC because of differences with key Coalition powerbrokers.

During his term as head of the ABC Mr Scott was persistently accused by sections of the Abbott government and elements of the commercial media industry of failing to redress alleged organisation bias against the Abbott government prior to its implosion.

Mr Scott succeeds Dr Michele Bruniges AM, who began her career as a classroom teacher in south-western Sydney.

In a neat bit of cross-jurisdictional poaching, Dr Bruniges has been appointed the head of the federal Department of Education and Training.

Like Dr Bruniges, Mr Scott also has a strong background in education and education policy having worked as a teacher at Sydney’s St Andrews Cathedral School prior to taking on senior ministerial roles with Greiner (Coalition) government under education minister Virginia Chadwick and Terry Metherell.

“On leaving the ABC, I was asked what I planned to do next. I can think of no more important opportunity than working alongside the teachers of NSW and the staff of the Department to improve teaching and learning in our schools,” Mr Scott said in a statement released by Mr Baird’s office.

“Mark’s appointment takes our reinvigoration of the senior executive of the NSW public service a step further,” Mr Baird said.

“Along with promoting outstanding young talent from within the service, we have sought out the best and brightest from the corporate world.

The appointment of a highly media savvy and digitally literate Education Secretary is also likely to provide some welcome relief for Education Minister Adrian Piccoli who has remained under sustained fire from parts of the tabloid press which have been gunning for his removal.

While the Baird government’s policies of renewed investment and improving the quality of public education – especially in outer suburban and regional areas – has won widespread electoral support, the approach has rankled parts of the independent education lobby that has had to work harder to obtain government money.

“I look forward to working with Mark to continue delivering the most comprehensive set of reforms of school education in a century,” Mr Piccoli said.

“Our focus remains on improving student results and delivering the skills base needed to grow the NSW economy.”
                    [post_title] => It's your public school: Former ABC chief Mark Scott to head of NSW Education Department
                    [post_excerpt] => Lesson in political survival
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                    [post_content] => 2013-11-23 14.18.47

The first NSW parliamentary inquiry into home schooling has received more than 300 submissions from parents, government departments, teachers’ unions and lobby groups and it looks set to be a fiery one.

The inquiry was prompted partly because there has been a 40 per cent increase in parents home schooling their children over the past four years but also because of the increasing number of parents who are failing to register their children with the Board of Studies, which is illegal.

December 2013 figures show 3,238 students are currently registered with the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) but the Home Education Association (HEA) estimates there are up to 10,000 children who are not registered.

In its submission to the inquiry, the HEA makes the explosive claim that some parents have been bullied, intimidated and threatened by Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) inspectors, with the result that thousands of children are being home-taught in secret because their parents don’t want them returned to school, often because of bullying.

The HEA’s submission to the inquiry said: “Unfortunately, the HEA is also receiving an increasing number of distress calls from families who have suffered excessive demands and even bullying by Authorised Persons sent to inspect their homes.

“Many families have had detrimental experiences in the registration process. Some families who previously had positive experiences have had negative experiences in more recent times.”

The HEA’s voluminous 240-page submission paints a picture of a group of parents who have a tense relationship with BOTSES, an organisation which they feel does not like or understand them and swamps them with paperwork and narrow curriculum requirements.

The NSW Department of Education concedes in its own inquiry submission that it has no way of knowing how many unregistered children there are in the state.

“Currently there is no system which registers or tracks the movement of children within Australia and across schooling systems. This means there is no reliable way of determining the number of children who are not receiving a compulsory education (including unregistered home schoolers), both in NSW and across Australia,” says the Department’s submission.

Both the NSW Department of Education and the Teachers Federation have said they support the rights of parents to home educate but both bodies have come out and said registration, inspection and monitoring requirements should remain stringent.

The battle for young hearts and minds has already exposed deep divisions between those who firmly believe children should be educated in the state school system and parents who want to home school their children, often because their children have been bullied in school or they have special educational needs.

Home educators themselves are a disparate group, some with strong religious beliefs, while others are completely secular in their approach. Many have teaching qualifications and experience, some have none.

A first hint of the controversy to follow came in June when NSW Greens MP John Kaye – Deputy Chair of the committee leading the inquiry – offended some home educating parents by issuing a press release saying home schooling created “specific welfare and learning outcomes risks” and that children could “end up trapped in abusive settings or left without appropriate learning opportunities”.

He provoked further fury by saying that some parents might be able to education some children at home “but there is no evidence that adults without professional training can provide quality instruction”.

Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile called for the inquiry, which will explore the motivations, outcomes, regulation and costs of home schooling, partly because home school parents had told him they felt unsupported by the government and that registration had become too onerous since 2013.

NSW Christian Democratic Party MP Paul Green, who is chairing the inquiry, said home schooling was a controversial topic.

“It’s a belief system (some people have) that every child should be in a state school that’s accountable with the expertise at hand and that people shouldn’t be in home schooling,” Mr Green said.

Mr Green said he hoped the inquiry would dispel prejudices some people had against home schooling and provide more support to parents who chose to home school.

“If the goal, truly, is to ensure that our kids are getting the right to education surely we should be encouraging anything that may deliver that, whether it’s home schooling, faith schools or the NSW education system,” Mr Green said.

“I think we’re going to see an increase in this, that people are pulling their kids out of school because they just don’t like the bullying coming from social media. Home schooling look like it’s going up, not down.”

Submissions to the inquiry closed on August 8 but there are two public hearings on September 5 and 8. The inquiry is expected to report in November.

The largest numbers of home schooling families are in Outer West Sydney and the Blue Mountains and Inner South West, followed by the Central Coast, the Capital Region and the Richmond-Tweed area.

Parents have different motives for home schooling their children but the most frequently cited, during BOSTES data collection, are philosophical choice followed by special learning needs and religious reasons. The category of “other” is also frequently selected and parents go onto specify dissatisfaction with school, bullying at school, distance from school, and/or short-term medical issues.

 
                    [post_title] => Home schooling surge put under the microscope
                    [post_excerpt] => Unregistered students a focus
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                    [post_content] => Subway

Subway, the company famous for its foot-long meatball subs, has made a landmark foray into the school canteen market after it secured a deal to provide lunches to children attending an independent school in South Australia.

In a precedent certain to stimulate appetites among multi-billion dollar fast-food chains operating in Australia, Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School in Adelaide is making waves after it farmed out the preparation of school lunches two days-a-week to the sandwich giant.

The arrangement between the school and Subway is a highly significant development for both the children’s education sector and the fast food industry, not least because of the passionate, ongoing debate and controversy over whether convenience food chains market to children; and whether their marketing practices are contributing to child health problems including obesity.

Convenience food corporations are certainly getting smart to the commercial opportunities more 'child friendly' products present.

Dominos Pizza in the US already delivers its kid-engineered “Smart Slice” to American schools, which comes loaded with one-third lower salt and fat pepperoni, low-fat mozzarella and a 51 per cent white whole wheat flour base.

Subway’s entry into Golden Grove came after parent who ran a local franchise suggested the idea after her children’s classmates asked for Subway sandwiches. She went into partnership with the school and Golden Grove children were offered the choice of a 4 or 6 inch sandwich, water or juice and a cookie for lunch.

Subway’s big advantage is that its core offering is essentially a variation on the tuck-shop classic of a salad roll.

And despite the considerable attention, a New South Wales children’s health promotion charity schools says schools struggling to run their canteens could do worse than to outsource to Subway.

Jo Gardner, chief executive of the Healthy Kids Foundation which has 1100 school canteen members across NSW, said Subway’s sandwiches and wraps could be fine, providing the fillings were not high in saturated fat and salt.

However, she was concerned about the inclusion of the cookie and the size of the juice offered, which she thought was 500ml.

“The nature of the food from Subway, which is fresh rolls and cheese or meat and salad: there could be a lot worse,” Ms Gardner said. “If you’re talking about outsourcing to McDonalds or KFC it would be quite problematic.”

“But I would want to see wholemeal sandwiches, rolls or wraps, low fat cheese and ham and no processed meats high in nitrates, salt or fat.”

She pointed out that the children at Golden Grove Primary School were only offered Subway sandwiches Monday and Tuesday. The school contracted out its canteen from Wednesday to Friday five years ago and it is managed by a neighbouring school.

South Australia’s Right Bight nutrition policy, which governs what can be sold in school canteens and preschools, allows fruit juice only if it is 99 per cent juice – which Subway’s is – and no bigger than 250ml.

Cookies, however, are a “red traffic light” food, which means it can only be sold in school canteens or at events twice a term.

A Subway spokesman said the example of Golden Grove was a “local franchise initiative” before adding that “Subway does not have a national school lunch program.”

He understood children were offered low fat options like turkey, ham and roast beef but he said a salami sub was also offered “for variety”.

“The subs offer lots of fresh salad veggies like lettuce, baby spinach, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, carrot and onion. Additional options available include low-fat milk, water, juice and a cookie,” he said.

The juice was not a standard national product but many franchises chose to stock Golden Circle Popper Apple Juice (250ml), which had no added sugar or preservatives and was 99.7 per cent apple juice.

South Australia’s Department for Education and Child Development said that the state’s school canteens were supported by the Right Bite policy and were “generally very healthy”.

“It is up to schools whether or not they outsource their canteens, however the Department expects outsourced providers to comply with the Right Bite policy,” said a spokeswoman.

Of the state’s public school canteens, 49 per cent were operated by schools; 17 per cent had an alternative food supply, like a local deli, and 12 per cent were outsourced. Sixteen per cent did not have a canteen.

Schools are increasingly outsourcing their canteens. Ms Gardner said that around 365 of the 2,223 NSW government schools had already outsourced their canteens, representing about 16 per cent of all public school canteens. She said this earned around $5.5 million in leasing fees for the NSW Department of Education.

Outsourcing was growing in popularity because of the complexities and requirements of operating a food business, which included: food ordering, staff management, food safety and nutrition standards, equipment maintenance and difficulty attracting reliable volunteers.

“From our perspective, if it assists the school to provide a food service that’s needed and wanted in the school and what’s on offer meets the (nutritional) guidelines there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be supported,” Ms Gardner said.

Jill Drury, chairperson of the South Australian School Canteen Network, said there was a mix of outsourced and school-run canteens in South Australia but she did not know of any other school with a similar arrangement in place with a fast-food company.

“Schools need to do what is best for them, as long as the company offers items that are within the Right Bite policy,” Ms Drury said.

“Other schools may very well follow Golden Grove if it the best thing for their school,” Ms Drury said.

Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School did not comment by deadline but the school’s website says:  “We believe this direction is a positive one as it provides families with a service and option for Mondays and Tuesdays and is a healthy choice as we have a restricted menu available,” said the website.

“Schools have been outsourcing lunch orders for many, many years and this arrangement is mutually beneficial for families who can choose a cheap and nutritious option for two days a week when they weren't able to before.”
                    [post_title] => Subway on school canteen menu
                    [post_excerpt] => Lunch orders from multinational fast food chain

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            [post_content] => 

Parents need a fair and informed choice, writes incoming CEO of Primary Ethics Evan Hannah.

Allowing parents to make an informed choice when enrolling their children in NSW public schools is simply a matter of fairness. But in NSW, you cannot enrol your child in ethics classes on the enrolment form, as you can for religious instruction.

The burden is on parents to work through the current confusing process before they finally get the chance to access ethics classes for their child.

I became involved with ethics education as a volunteer ethics coordinator three years ago at my son’s school in Sydney’s inner west. As an ethics coordinator, I’ve seen that the unfair approach to enrolment into ethics classes continues to frustrate parents and school staff alike.

The government has made it as difficult as possible for parents to access ethics classes for their children. It rejected recommendations from an independent report for parents to be provided with better access to information and enrolment opportunities, and it cannot explain why that is fair or reasonable.

Quite simply, we just seek equal treatment for all parents. We’ll continue to work with the Department of Education to streamline the enrolment process for both parents and school staff.

Who is Primary Ethics?

Primary Ethics was established in 2010 at the request of the NSW Government to provide ethics education for children in NSW public schools. From 1,530 students in the first year of classes, Primary Ethics is now taught to more than 36,000 students by 2,500 volunteers in weekly classes at 450 schools across NSW.

An ethics program is launched at a new school approximately every 10 days, but the government enrolment policy is a huge impediment to fulfilling the Primary Ethics goal of offering the program to the rest of the estimated 70,000 students who are currently spending one lesson a week in the holding pattern of ‘non-scripture’.

The continuing confusion about enrolments obviously affects our growth. We know when one school decides to start Primary Ethics classes, and we train volunteers who then begin teaching, it has a domino effect on nearby schools as awareness grows. Removing the ridiculous block on informed choice would give more NSW children a chance to learn skills to make better decisions.

Public support for an ethics-based complement to Special Religious Education (SRE), began in the early 2000s and culminated in an amendment to the NSW Education Act in 2010 to enable Special Education in Ethics (SEE) classes to be delivered alongside religious instruction during the designated timeslot.

This was significant, because it was the first time since 1866 that children who did not take scripture could instead take part in an activity of benefit to the child, instead of effectively doing nothing.

Until 2010, the Education Act mandated that children who did not attend scripture could not undertake any learning during this timeslot to ensure that children receiving religious instruction did not miss out.

Discussion-based ethics classes are facilitated by trained local volunteers using a curriculum written by specialist in philosophy and education, Dr Sue Knight, and reviewed by both an internal committee and the Department of Education. The stage 3 (years 5 & 6) lesson materials were completed in 2011, the first year that the ethics program was rolled out. A new stage-based curriculum was developed each year, and from 2015, the program has been available for delivery across all primary-school stages, from kindergarten to year 6.    

We now have an excellent, world-first ethics curriculum available free for communities to use to educate their children. And thanks to donations, we are also able to provide recruitment, screening, and free training and support for volunteers willing to be involved in delivering those lessons.

Primary Ethics is the sole provider of ethics classes in NSW. The free program is taught by trained volunteers following a curriculum written for various primary school stages, covering years K-6. The curriculum is approved as age-appropriate by the Department of Education. Evan Hannah is a former journalist and news media manager who became CEO of the not-for-profit organisation in July.

 

 
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    [found_posts] => 4
    [max_num_pages] => 1
    [max_num_comment_pages] => 0
    [is_single] => 
    [is_preview] => 
    [is_page] => 
    [is_archive] => 1
    [is_date] => 
    [is_year] => 
    [is_month] => 
    [is_day] => 
    [is_time] => 
    [is_author] => 
    [is_category] => 
    [is_tag] => 1
    [is_tax] => 
    [is_search] => 
    [is_feed] => 
    [is_comment_feed] => 
    [is_trackback] => 
    [is_home] => 
    [is_404] => 
    [is_embed] => 
    [is_paged] => 
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 7bc81f4e38b7122808df08c603415fa6
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1
    [thumbnails_cached] => 
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array
        (
            [0] => query_vars_hash
            [1] => query_vars_changed
        )

    [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array
        (
            [0] => init_query_flags
            [1] => parse_tax_query
        )

)

NSW-Department-of-Education