Friday, November 26, 2010

AUSTRALIA: GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT ETHICS CLASSES

CATH NEWS REPORT: The NSW government will introduce an amendment to the Education Act today to enshrine the right of schools to offer ethics classes, to prevent the Coalition removing the classes if elected, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The amendment will be supported by the Greens in the Legislative Council, guaranteeing it will become law before Parliament rises at the end of next week and before the election in March.
''The message we have received loud and clear from parents is that they should have the right to choose what is best for their child," said Premier Kristina Keneally.
However, the opposition spokesman for education, Adrian Piccoli, attacked the decision, pointing out that the Board of Studies had to remove inappropriate draft course material before the trial of ethics classes earlier this year.
''If they want to legislate for a course, which has previously included subjects on terrorism and designer babies to be taught to 11-year-olds, then that's a decision for the Labor Party,'' he said.
A spokeswoman for Education Minister Verity Firth said: ''First the Coalition failed to listen to parents and now they're trying to scare them. All course material will be vetted by the Board of Studies''.
IN OTHER EDUCATION NEWS, the Herald reports Ms Firth received advice from the NSW Board of Studies that more time was needed for consultation regarding adopting a national curriculum, and is preparing to reject the curriculum to be presented by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority at a December 8 meeting of education ministers.
The Herald understands the Board of Studies has responded to concerns about a lack of consultation by the authority and the overall curriculum structure, including the times allotted to teach each subject and the capacity to cater for all students.
The Board of Studies has consistently criticised drafts of the curriculum, saying it is inferior to the existing NSW curriculum.
A coalition of seven national principals' associations, representing public, independent and Catholic schools, issued a statement in support of a ''truly national Australian curriculum''.
The group, which includes the Australian Secondary Principals Association, is scheduled to meet with the curriculum authority in Sydney today to discuss the future of the proposal. http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=24327

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