The Department’s Controversial Issues in School Policy and Implementation Procedures (PDF 330KB) provide direction for the management of controversial issues in schools.

All schools in NSW are required to teach courses of study in accordance with the outcomes of syllabuses developed by NSW Education Standards Authority.

Some aspects of PDHPE may be viewed as sensitive or controversial, such as learning about abuse, child protection, drugs, respectful relationships, sexual health, sexuality, and violence.

Principals are responsible for the delivery of curriculum, school programs and activities, inclusive of the study of controversial issues. This includes the approval of content and supervision of activities delivered by external providers.

It is essential that principals maintain communication with parents and carers on teaching and learning programs, visiting speakers, external providers and other school activities, including student organised activities, in which controversial issues may be addressed.

Parents and carers need to be advised of the specific details of school activities, programs or events addressing controversial issues and the relevance to the curriculum and school programs and activities. Where advice is appropriate, it must be given prior to the occasion so parents and carers can provide consent or withdraw their child from a particular session(s) on controversial issues. The parental right to withdraw their child must be respected.

Source: Controversial Issues in Schools Policy Implementation Procedures (PDF 330KB)

Access and modify the sample PDHPE information letters to communicate with your school community about your teaching and learning 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 the 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 child protection 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.

Alternative learning must be provided to students withdrawn from a session involving controversial issues. Principals decide to use opt-out or opt-in forms to obtain parental permission. Factors to consider when using opt-out permission forms include

  • the link to the curriculum (NSW syllabus outcomes and content)
  • link to school programs, learning objectives and student needs
  • the number of students participating.

If a parent or carer calls the school to provide or deny consent to the particular activity, a written record of the call (including, date, time, caller, recipient and consent) must be kept accordance with section 6 of the procedures.

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