Dungog Public School introduced discussion-based ethics classes in 2015 and three years on they're continuing to prove popular with families.
"I love seeing the kids so enthusiastic and passionate about the terrific topics we teach," said Philippa Hudson, one of the volunteer ethics teachers.
"I love knowing that what I’m teaching is having a positive impact on our future generations' lives.”
Her son, eight-year-old Harry, said he likes the classes as ”I get to listen to other people‘s ideas, listen to stories and learn things.”
Primary Ethics, who run the classes, are keen to let parents and carers of children at schools in surrounding areas such as Vacy, Clarence Town, Paterson and East Gresford that their children can have ethics classes too if more volunteer ethics teachers come on-board.
Ethics teachers are often parents, grandparents or community members who have an hour or so a week free and a desire to give something back to their local communities.
Ethics classes help children learn skills such as critical thinking and how to make well-reasoned decisions, which help them in their lives today and prepare them for a changing future where developments such as artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and the internet provide a range of new challenges.
Ethics teachers are required to do some online preparation before attending the two day face-to-face workshop, which is funded by donors.
Helen Rubeli's daughter Freya,10, has attended ethics classes for the past five years.
"To me, ethics is about open mindedness, challenging your own assumptions before they become prejudices and being able to listen to others' perspectives,” Ms Rubeli said.
“Great skills for a harmonious society. I am really happy my daughter enjoys the program. She comes home with interesting real-life quandaries which we discuss over dinner.”
Ethics classes are available for students who would normally attend ‘non-scripture’ during the Special Religious Education (also known at some schools as SRE/SEE, or ‘scripture’) timeslot.
For many children the alternative is sitting in the library and colouring in.
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. There is age appropriate curriculum for children right through to year 6, all reviewed by the Department of Education.
Ethics teacher training is to start in early July.
To find out more and to apply, visit primaryethics.com.au/volunteer