Parents seek non-religious alternative to school scripture classes

A NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations survey has found that 59 per cent of 280 parents questioned believe that there should be a secular ethics-based alternative to religious education in schools.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that parents said activities offered to children who did not attend scripture classes included watching videos, reading and supervised activities such as colouring in.

Seventy-nine per cent of parents said they would support their children being exposed to faiths other than their own.

Almost a quarter of parents said they would like to see the teaching of faiths other than Christianity introduced.

The publicity officer for the Federation, Sharon-Roni Canty, said students not attending religious education were missing out on teaching that offered a moral grounding.

"Our survey shows that schools are not offering constructive activities that would engage the students who aren't attending religious education," she said.

Sydney's St James Ethics Centre put a proposal for non-religious ethics classes to the former minister for education, Andrew Refshauge, in 2003, but it was rejected.

The present minister, Ms Carmel Tebbutt has said the teaching of ethics and moral values was already "embedded" in the kindergarten to year 12 curriculum.

In another story, the Herald reports that Catholic schools will stick with the controversial A to E report cards despite the NSW State Government's modifications to the program.

Catholic Education Commission executive director Brian Croke was quoted as saying that the commission was waiting for the federal response to NSW Education Minister Tebbutt's submission.

Most Catholic schools in NSW introduced the new style of grading for the half-yearly reporting period.

The 75 Catholic schools in the Parramatta diocese receive 56 per cent of their funding from the Federal Government.

Greg Whitby, executive director for Parramatta diocesan schools told the Herald that "the Federal Government made it quite clear it was a condition of funding."

Picture: Alexander Abolinsh stock.xchng

Parents want class teaching secular views of morality (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/8/06)
Worried schools stick with A to E plan (SMH, 6/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations Associations of NSW
St James Ethics Centre

Catholic parents favour A-to-E school reports (CathNews, 20/6/06)
A-E report confusion in Victoria (CathNews, 27/7/06)
Church fears 'Ethics' may be stepping stone to ban on Scripture (CathNews, 11/8/05)

7 Aug 2006