Sunday, 4 March 2018

When a secular public school goes bad......

Parents at a NSW public school say they have been left "horrified" after students were repeatedly placed in scripture classes against their parents' wishes and told they needed to have an interview with a deputy principal before they could attend non-scripture classes.

The NSW Department of Education is making inquiries into a letter sent to parents by the principal of Maclean High School in northern NSW, which strongly advocates for scripture classes and appears to breach the department's policy on religious education in several instances.

Parents also said students with written permission to attend non-scripture had been repeatedly put into scripture classes at the start of every year and parents were told to provide new notes, in breach of the department's policy.

"Updated permission is required each year for your child to access this arrangement [non-scripture]," states a form attached to the principal's letter, dated February 1, 2018.

"In addition, each student wishing to be exempt from SRE [special religious education] must arrange an interview with a deputy principal to discuss the above arrangements.

"NB: If the note above is not returned then the student will attend SRE."
The Education Department's SRE policy specifically states "students are to continue in the same arrangement as the previous year, unless a parent/caregiver has requested a change".

The department's director of early learning and primary education Rod Megahey also recently confirmed that students should be placed in non-scripture "if the parents/caregivers do not return the SRE participation letter", in a letter to the director of the Fairness in Religions in School (FIRIS) group sent in November last year.

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said there was "an inequality" in Maclean High's scripture policy.

"The kids who are attending SRE don't have to have an appointment with the deputy," the parent said.

"I just feel like my voice isn't being heard and my choices aren't being respected."
The parent said they were also shocked by the rest of the principal's letter, in which he strongly advocates for scripture classes.

"I highly recommend the opportunities provided by the SRE program," the letter stated.
"The potential to develop moral and ethical positions within a framework of Christian values should not be underestimated in today's world."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said: "The department is following up with Maclean High School in regards to their letter."…..

Maclean High School newsletters list Mr Greg Court as Principal with Mrs Gaye Kelsey and Mr Scott Dinham as Deputy Principals.

Maclean High School employs the Think Faith SRE curriculum.

On its website the school states:

Maclean High School is a district comprehensive secondary school servicing the educational needs of the entire Lower Clarence geographical area. The drawing area includes the towns and villages of Maclean, Yamba, Iluka, Brooms Head, Lawrence, Angourie, Harwood, Chatsworth Island, Palmers Island, Ashby and Tyndale. Approximately 65% of the school population is bused daily from outlying areas.
The school has a student population of 900 students with a complement of over 100 teaching and support staff. The staff are dedicated, experienced and stable. The school core values are FRESH, standing for FAIR, RESPECT, EFFORT, SAFE and HONEST. All that we do at Maclean High School can be linked to these values
. [my yellow highlighting]

Such a pity it doesn’t live up to this boast.

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