Ethics in Schools Not Parliament

Independent evaluation of ethics class trials in 10 schools during 2010, including in Crown Street and Darlinghurst public schools, showed a significant increase in students' ability to identify ethical principles and a deeper understanding of ethical standards.

Ethics classes were only available to children whose parents did not want them to attend scripture classes. While religious education has long taught morality to school children from a faith-based perspective, religion does not have a monopoly on moral conduct and I supported the Education Amendment (Ethics) Bill to ensure that ethics classes can be offered in all public schools.

Ethics classes could have proceeded without legislation, but the Government used the bill to play wedge politics with the Opposition, which chose to oppose teaching secular ethics to children - an ironic setting for debate on ethics!

The extensive Parliament and media time consumed on this minor but progressive change shows why it is so difficult to get action on our major challenges like climate change, affordable housing and sustainable transport.


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