This policy is current as at 25/11/2017 01:27pm, AEDT. Please refer to policy library website (https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library) for an updated version.

Controversial Issues in Schools

Direction for the management of controversial issues in schools, whether by the use of teaching-learning material or views expressed by teachers or visiting speakers.

1. Objectives - Policy statement

1.1

Consideration of controversial issues in schools, whether by the use of teaching and learning material or by way of views expressed by teachers or visiting speakers, must comply with the following principles.

1.1.1

Schools are neutral grounds for rational discourse and objective study. They are not arenas for opposing political views or ideologies.

1.1.2

Discussion of controversial issues is acceptable only when it clearly serves the educative purpose and is consistent with curriculum objectives. Such discussion is not intended to advance the interest of any group, political or otherwise.

1.1.3

The school, through the Principal, is accountable for that part of the educative process which it initiates, or which is conducted in school time.

1.1.4

Material presented to students as part of the teaching and learning process, including school excursions, films and live performances, should be age appropriate, relevant to curriculum aims and objectives, and consistent with the values of Public Education.

1.1.5

Visits to schools by politicians, whilst welcome, are to be arranged consistent with protocols which are specific to particular occasions, as well as the role played by the politician in federal, state and local government.

1.1.6

School facilities are not to be made available to organisations or individuals engaging in any illegal activity or whose activities are considered by the principal to be inconsistent with the values of Public Education or the school’s purpose and goals.

1.1.7

Material of an overtly political nature or which is considered by the Principal to be inconsistent with the values of Public Education or the school’s purpose and goals must not be distributed on the school site.

2. Audience and applicability

2.1

All schools.

3. Context

3.1

Schools are places where students are preparing for informed and reasoned involvement in community life, including its politics, by calm and co-operative study of social issues. Schools are not places for recruiting into partisan groups.

3.2

Teachers and visiting presenters to schools have a privileged position. They have the opportunity, denied to many other concerned people, to influence students. They therefore have a special responsibility to maintain objectivity, to avoid distortion of discussions, and to acknowledge the right of students and parents to hold a different viewpoint.

4. Responsibilities and delegations

4.1

The Principal is responsible for ensuring a balanced and reasonable consideration of various viewpoints is contained within curriculum content delivered by teachers, within presentations to students at schools by visiting speakers and while undertaking school excursions.

4.2

With regard to presentations by visitors to the school, the Principal is required to approve in advance of the event:

4.2.1

the participation of any visitor in the school’s teaching/learning program;

4.2.2

the engagement of any visitor to speak to students at the school; and

4.2.3

any literature, audio/visual product or other material proposed to be used by visitors in the form in which it is to be presented to students.

4.3

With regard to the presentation of films, other audio/visual productions or live performances to students either at school or on school excursions, the Principal is required to approve the presentation in advance of the event. Presentations should be previewed for suitability by the school.

4.4

The Principal may delegate to an appropriate member of the teaching staff the task of previewing the presentation.

4.5

The Principal may delegate to an executive member of staff the task of approving the use of G and PG classified films and computer games (see Implementation Documents).

4.6

The Principal must approve the use of M and MA 15+ classified films and computer games (see Implementation Documents).

4.7

Neither the Principal nor any other staff member may approve the presentation of a film classified R 18+ to students.

4.8

It is the responsibility of the Principal to ensure that staff are familiar with the substance of this policy that parents are made aware of its implications and, where appropriate, are consulted with regard to the participation of their children in programs dealing with controversial issues.

5. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements

5.1

Directors, Public Schools NSW are required to monitor the compliance of schools with this policy.

5.2

Principals are to report controversial issues or incidents occurring in their schools consistent with the department's Incident Reporting Policy.

5.3

Where individuals or organisations breach their agreements with the Principal on the presentation of controversial issues, the Executive Director is to be informed, via the Director, Public Schools NSW, as a matter of urgency.

6. Contact

Director, School Policy and Information Management (02) 9244 5070.

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