Policy in practice


Some members of the community can consider aspects of PDHPE, such as respectful relationships, child protection, sexuality and sexual health and drug education sensitive or controversial.

Controversial issues in schools policy

The department’s Controversial Issues in Schools Policy and implementation procedures provide direction for the management of controversial issues in schools.

The school has a responsibility to inform parents, prior to the occasion, of the specific details of the program, so that parents have time to exercise their rights of withdrawing their child from a particular session on certain controversial issues. In this regard, a parent’s wish must be respected.

Source: Controversial Issues in Schools Policy Implementation Procedures.

The school has a responsibility to inform parents, prior to the occasion, of the specific details of the program, so that parents have time to exercise their rights of withdrawing their child from a particular session on certain controversial issues. In this regard, a parent’s wish must be respected. Source: Controversial Issues in Schools Policy Implementation Procedures.

This statement should be applied to the study of controversial material and introduction of external speakers on controversial issues to supplement curriculum programs. Evaluation of school programs indicates that, where parents and carers have an understanding of the program, students’ learning is improved.

Where parents and carers indicate they wish to withdraw their child from a program it is useful to negotiate which parts of the program they are concerned about. Schools should implement a consultative process to ensure parents and carers have opportunity to participate in discussions on both curriculum content and teaching and learning materials where appropriate to ascertain whether parts of the program need to be modified.

There are many misconceptions about what students learn about and how students learn in respectful relationships education. Communication with parents and carers assists the community to better understand the content and aims of the programs.

Establishing how parents will be informed about programs and involved in consultation is a school- based decision.

Code of conduct

Teachers continually use their professional judgement to decide on the best strategies, resources and teaching and learning methods for any given situation.

In making these judgements, teachers must take into account the age, maturity, health and other characteristics of children and young people. They must also be aware that their own conduct at all times, must be keeping with that specified in the department’s code of conduct and of their role and responsibilities pursuant to it.

Resilience research confirms that the presence of a caring adult in aspects of their lives is important in assisting students to overcome adversity and achieve at school.

Effective teaching in PDHPE relies on positive relationships that are developed in a professional manner. The teacher is, by the nature of their role, in a position of trust, authority and influence. Modelling respectful interactions is an important part of teacher and student interactions.

Establishing a trusting relationship between student and teacher supports effective teaching and learning. This relationship should focus on the needs of the student.

Child protection and wellbeing

The legislation passed in 2009 for the Keep Them Safe: A shared approach to child wellbeing stipulates that all NSW agencies which provide services to children, young people and their families, or whose staff come into contact with children and young people in the course of their work, are considered to have a particular role in protecting children and young people from harm.

Employees of the NSW Department of Education have responsibilities under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 relating to the reporting of concerns about suspected risk of significant harm and risk of harm to children and young people to their principal or workplace manager.

The Mandatory reporter guide (MRG) can assist in making an informed decision regarding child protection concerns. If concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of children or young people constitute risk of significant harm, principals must report these to the Child Protection Helpline on 133627.

The Child Wellbeing Unit can be contacted on 9269 9400 when staff are unclear about how to use the MRG, wish to get advice on the MRG or the MRG indicates to contact the Child Wellbeing Unit.

Education has an important role to support children and young people and to identify where problems arise that may put their safety, welfare or wellbeing at risk. All staff must convey risk of harm concerns to the principal.

The Protecting and Supporting Children and Young People Policy sets out the responsibilities department employees under the legislation. All staff have a duty to recognise safety, welfare or wellbeing concerns for children and young people that arise from or during the course of their work.

Protecting and supporting children and young people: revised procedures (updated  14/3/2014) require that all staff in schools are aware of the indicators of child abuse and neglect of children and young people, their obligations to report suspected risk of harm and the procedure for doing so.If staff have reasonable grounds to suspect risk of significant harm to a child or young person, they are required to tell their principal or workplace manager.

Audiovisual material in schools – procedures for use

Audiovisual materials (e.g. videos, media clips) and interactive web based content (e.g. games, quizzes and websites) provide stimulus for class discussion or demonstrate curriculum content in a range of contexts.

All audiovisual materials must be previewed prior to use with students. The reviewer should give particular consideration to the suitability of the material in the educational context and the age and maturity of the intended audience. Be sensitive to cultural protocols that may be relevant to certain members of intended audiences when previewing materials.

The department’s Audiovisual materials in schools - procedures for use provides advice for schools with regard to the use of audiovisual material including films, videos, DVDs and computer games classified by the Classification Board and Classification Review Board.

The use of classified films, programs and computer games in schools requires the approval of the principal.

This advice should also be applied to any approved school excursions or when external providers use audiovisual material as part of their programs.

Clips from web channels and platforms such as Ted-Ed and YouTube can enhance teaching and learning. Be aware that YouTube is technically only for teens 13 and up, and what the site considers age-appropriate may not match classification standards or educational values.

Apply the advice from the department’s Audiovisual materials in schools - procedures for use before making decisions about the suitability of material for student use.

Sample questions used to review audiovisual and digital media materials may include:

  • What syllabus outcomes or content will be addressed, explored or complemented through use of this material?
  • In what ways is this material age appropriate and inclusive?
  • What are the reasons you would use this material in a lesson or as part of a program? Could you deliver the lesson or content in another way?
  • Does the material value add to the lesson?
  • What key messages would you want students to take away from the material? Are these messages inclusive and in line with NSW curriculum?
  • How might this material be viewed by your school community and should the community be informed before using the material?
  • How would you use this material to ensure quality teaching and learning?

Guidelines for engaging external providers

Use visiting speakers and external providers only where this adds value to existing teaching and learning practice.

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