Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen, today declared Labor’s commitment to return the option for Special Ethics Education to the enrolment form in NSW public schools as a victory for parents.
The announcement will make it easier for parents to decide between enrolling their child in scripture or ethics classes.
Ms Haylen has been working closely with local parents on the reform and campaigned strongly for the change in the parliament. Ms Haylen also had a piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the issue.
The Coalition government changed the enrolment form in 2015 in a backroom deal with The Rev Fred Nile, making it more difficult for parents to understand the options available to them.
Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib said that at present principals do not have to inform parents about ethics classes until the parent has returned paperwork rejecting scripture lessons for their child - twice.
This effectively hides the availability of ethics classes from parents and requires them to take a number of steps to enrol children in ethics classes.
Labor’s policy will ensure parents and families can make an informed choice, and firmly establish that Ethics and Special Religious Education are both legitimate choices. Scripture is not being removed as a choice from NSW public schools.
A $300,000 independent review by ARTD consultants made 56 recommendations – including restoring the ethics option. The Government has previously ruled out making any changes to enrolment forms.
Quotes attributable to Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen
“This is a huge win for inner west parents, who overwhelmingly want to see the option for Special Ethics Education returned to school enrolment forms.
“The current enrolment process for ethics is not awkward bureaucracy, but a calculated, deliberate effort to deceive parents and funnel kids into scripture classes.
“Parents have every right to have all the information and to make an informed choice about their kids’ education.”
Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley
‘Students and parents should be able to freely choose whether to enrol in scripture or ethics classes, or none. It is not a matter for government or the Rev, Fred Nile.
“The Scripture option will still be on the form, alongside the Ethics option. This will provide parents and families with a clear choice.’
Quotes attributable to Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib
“Ethics or Scripture should be a matter for students and their parents to decide without intervention from the state – Labor’s policy will ensure that.’
‘It’s a very simple thing to do – go back to the form that was in use before the Liberal-National government changed it. Allow parents to just tick the box, without the need to write additional letters – or creating more confusion.”