Primary Ethics teacher training course

People interested in teaching philosophical ethics classes at primary schools in the Bellingen and Coffs Harbour region are invited to attend a weekend training workshop in March.

Ethics programs are currently running at Sawtell, Narranga, Kororo, Bellingen, Repton and Ulong Public Schools for children from Kindergarten to Year Six.

They are discussion-based and are facilitated by trained volunteer teachers. Students are encouraged to ask questions, be curious, and share their own ideas. In doing so, they learn the skills to make well-reasoned decisions about ethical issues. Parents, grandparents and members of the general community are all invited to apply to be ethics teachers through the approved charity Primary Ethics.

Primary Ethics is holding an ethics teacher training workshop at Narranga Public School on March 24-25.  Applications would need to be received before the end of February.  

“I was inspired to be part of this program from the start,” said Rachel Barwick who began teaching ethics classes at Narranga Public School in 2017.  

“The training weekend was fantastic, meeting with other enthusiastic volunteers in a supportive environment. We practised teaching scenarios and were given feedback and encouragement.  I feel students are developing lifelong skills and I am encouraged by the aptitude and enthusiasm they display.”

Don Cooper, who has has also been an ethics teacher at Narranga Public School, said the program helps students gain confidence in formulating answers to ethical questions, by examining an issue from many viewpoints.  

“Students learn to build on or respectfully disagree with the answers of other students. They learn skills that will benefit them in their education, working lives and everyday life.”

Ethics classes are available for students who would normally attend 'non-scripture' during the Special Religious Education (SRE/SEE or 'scripture') timeslot. In ethics classes, children explore a range of stories and scenarios, discussing what we ought to do, how we ought to live, the kind of society we should have and what kind of person each of us should strive to be.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that examines ethical concepts and issues, asking what is right or wrong in particular circumstances. The curriculum has been especially written for Primary Ethics and comprises a wide range of topics that primary-aged children find interesting. Students learn to think about these ethical matters together and engage in the give-and-take of reasoned argument. This process allows children to properly consider other people’s points of view and to be sincere, reasonable and listen respectfully in dealing with their differences and disagreements.

Helen Lawrence has been an ethics teacher for two years at Narranga Public School.   

“I have been amazed and rewarded by the enthusiasm and interest shown by the students,” she said. “The scenarios and questions engage and challenge the children and even the very shy ones have an opportunity to give their opinion and be listened to by their peers.  The approach is called “fostering a community of enquiry” and this is indeed what we do.  I would recommend being an ethics teacher to anyone interested in building the capacity of the leaders of tomorrow.”

Maureen Waight has been an ethics teacher at Sawtell Public School for three years.

“I really like seeing the children develop the confidence to say what they think, and why they think that, after giving some thought to the subject,” she said.  “There is always an extra bonus when a gem pops up, such as the child who told me that what they learnt in ethics would serve them well when they became Prime Minister!  That makes it very rewarding.”

There are currently vacancies for volunteer ethics teachers and ethics coordinators across the Coffs Harbour Bellingen region. If you are looking for a rewarding way to volunteer in your local school or community, visit the Primary Ethics website or contact John Gray, Primary Ethics Regional Manager, Coffs Harbour Bellingen Region on 04 22 333 238 or email