Ethics classes offer kids secular study option

CHILDREN who don't attend Special Religion Education classes in Northern Rivers schools can instead attend a secular alternative called Primary Ethics.

The statewide program has recently made its way to five schools in the area and Primary Ethics CEO Teresa Russell is calling for more parents to request the volunteer-led classes in their schools.

"The Primary Ethics program at any NSW public school becomes a possibility when parents tell the principal that they want their children to go to these classes," she said.

"We need one volunteer and a minimum of eight children in a stage to start a class."

Ms Russell said volunteers do not need qualifications but must have an open mind and show an interest in talking about ethical issues.

"The ethics teacher facilitates discussion on the topics in the curriculum and they get the children to talk to each other about these issues," Ms Russell said.

The curriculum covers 75 topics, from the seven deadly sins to virtues and vices, and topics that are relevant to living in today's world.

"There's a fairness thread, a logical-thinking skills thread, and another thread on being good to the environment," she said.

Primary Ethics classes are available to students from kindergarten to year 6 and they run once a week at the same time as Special Religious Education or scripture classes.

Ms Russell said these secular ethics classes filled a gap in the curriculum for families who either didn't follow a religion or their religion was not taught in school.

"About 25% of the children in the state don't go to the available religion classes in their school," Ms Russell said.

"Prior to us being legislated the children ... were not allowed to do anything meaningful in that time.

"We've created a secular alternative for the kids whose parents don't want them to sit in the hall and do nothing," she said.

For those interested in volunteering please visit the Primary Ethics website,   

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