The decision announced on Friday, 3 July, by the Baird Government http://bit.ly/
The current enrolment form that asks parents whether they prefer their child to attend Scripture lessons, ethics lessons or other supervised activity is to be changed.
The new enrolment form will only allow parents to enrol their children in Scripture classes. Parents will no longer be asked if they would like their child to attend Ethics lessons.
Accordingly, schools will no longer be able to make ethics lessons available in response to parents’ preferences.
The discrimination against parents who want their children to attend Ethics classes is profound.
Unlike parents who want their children to attend Scripture, parents wanting ethics lessons will need to go to extraordinary lengths, one by one, in order to advise the school of their preference for their child to attend ethics lessons.
Accordingly, this will effectively limit the capacity of the schools to make available ethics lessons in response to parental preferences.
In response to this change, the Chairman of Primary Ethics, Mr Bruce Hogan, said, ‘This change in the enrolment is grossly unethical on two grounds. First, it blatantly discriminates against parents wanting their child to attend ethics lessons. Second, it is grossly unethical as the enrolment form no longer enables parents to make an informed choice in the best interests of their child’.
Sadly, this change in the enrolment form is in response to secret lobbying by the Christian churches of both the Premier and Minister for Education.
One can only wonder what has led the premier to make such an unprincipled decision. Let us hope that this change has nothing to do with the premier’s need to secure Fred Nile’s vote in the Legislative Council.
It is worth noting that neither the Premier nor Minister for Education have ever consulted on this matter with the charity, Primary Ethics, which is the sole authorised provider of ethics lessons in NSW government schools.
This would suggest that the Premier has never had any interest other than to favour parents preferring Scripture, at the expense of parents interested in Ethics.
As the Premier, the Minister for Education and the Churches well know, the school enrolment form is a crucial document that until now has allowed parents to give effect to their preference for their children to attend ethics classes.
No doubt the Christian Churches will be celebrating this change as a material roadblock to the provision of ethics lessons in schools.
Unfortunately, this ‘victory’ will be seen by many in the community as the churches again acting unethically in their misguided pursuit of self-interest.
And while not a position supported by Primary Ethics, such behaviour by the churches can only fuel the fervour of those fundamentally opposed to the provision of Scripture lessons in any government school.
Primary Ethics calls on the Premier, in the interests of ethical governance and his duty to treat all parents equally, to rescind this decision to change the current school enrolment form.
Bruce Hogan, Chairman, Primary Ethics