Ethics classes to start in 2011

23 November  2010

Ethics classes will be available in NSW public schools from Term 1, 2011.

The announcement by Premier Kristina Keneally and Minister for Education and Training Verity Firth follows the successful completion of a trial program earlier this year.

The NSW Cabinet approved ethics classes after considering the recommendations of an independent evaluation of the trial.

"The evidence has been overwhelmingly positive in support of ethics classes in NSW," Ms Keneally said.

"The evaluation report found a high level of support for the course in school communities which participated in the trial and that has also been reflected in the response from the wider community."

Following the release of the evaluation report for public comment in October, 745 community submissions were received with 730 in favour of ethics continuing.

"From next year, schools can opt to offer the course following consultation with their school community," Ms Keneally said.

The classes will initially be offered to Years 5 and 6 and then progressively extended to Years K-6.

The St James Ethics Centre, which ran the course during its trial, will continue to be responsible for all aspects of its delivery, including providing trained volunteer teachers and resources.

The Minister for Education and Training, Verity Firth, said the government has no plans to replace scripture – also known as special religious education – in NSW public schools and that the ethics course would operate in parallel.

"The approval of an ethics course will simply provide an alternative without taking away the importance of religious classes for other families," Ms Firth said.

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