Demand at school for ethics classes

Demand at school for ethics classes

ETHICS classes are in high demand at Burraneer Bay Public School, where its one and only available lesson is already filled to capacity.

"Ethics" was introduced into NSW public schools as an alternative to special religious education, or scripture.

The NSW Education Act 1990 was amended in late 2010, giving pupils who do not attend scripture the right to attend philosophical ethics classes as an option to supervised "private study".

Pupils can attend Catholic, Protestant or Hindu scripture classes.

Enrolments for the 25-minute weekly classes were strong, with some children placed on waiting lists until there is a vacancy or a new class is formed.

Children whose parents do not want them to participate will be supervised.

Introduced by St James Ethics Centre, the classes drew heavy criticism from church representatives.

They feared the course would undermine their traditional religious teachings in the public school system.

Gymea Anglican Church pastor Graham Crew said that churches "may have over-reacted".

"Children should be given the choice, but in one sense, I'd rather they be called 'humanist classes'," he said.

"As a former government school teacher, one of the things which we sought to champion was that we already taught values."

Ethics is available only to year 5 and 6 pupils but it will be extended to years 3 and 4 next term.

However, there is a shortage of volunteers to teach the new classes.