Was this principal being inclusive…or offensive?

by Robert Ballantyne29 Mar 2016


A primary school principal is under fire for banning references to Easter without consulting his school community.

Last Wednesday, Bondi Public School head, Michael Jones, infuriated some parents by removing the word ‘Easter’ from the Easter Hat Parade that involved children from kindergarten to Year 2.

While Jones has been reminded by the state’s education department of his obligation to consult the community before making decisions on sensitive issues, it will not force him to reinstate the word.

This is not the first time Jones has been slammed for such a move.

Before the school’s 2011 Easter Hat Parade, Jones removed references to Easter in a bid to teach students about religious tolerance.

Unlike this time, Jones wrote to parents in advance, saying Easter was “just one of many religious celebrations at this time of year”.

“As we are an inclusive community which celebrates our diverse range of cultures and beliefs I have not called it an Easter Hat parade,” Jones wrote.

“Many religious celebrations occur at this time of year but we want to include all students in any celebration at school. Teachers will talk to students about the different celebrations and the emphasis will be on tolerance and understanding.”

So, in a culturally diverse school environment, was Jones wrong to do this?

One parent told The Daily Telegraph Bondi Public School had a vibrant mix of races, religions and nationalities with a “strong acceptance of all cultures in a tolerant and inclusive way”.

However, the Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations (FPCA) said it was disappointed by the principal’s decision to remove the word ‘Easter’ from the parade.

“The Department of Education has a very clear direction, a very strong policy that Christian activities such as celebrating Easter and Christmas go ahead,” it said.

“These are long-held traditions. Categorically the parade should go ahead as an Easter function.”

A spokesman for the NSW Education Department told The Daily Telegraph that allowing schools to make their own decisions at local level works well 99 times out of 100 and they have no desire to “play Big Brother” and interfere.

“Holding and naming such events is a local management decision made at the school level,” the spokesperson said.

“Bondi Public School strongly encourages parents to raise any concerns directly with the principal or a member of staff.”

 

HAVE YOUR SAY: Was this principal being inclusive or offensive by removing the word ‘Easter’?

COMMENTS

  • by Offended 29/03/2016 5:32:35 PM

    The school celebrates Chinese New Year each year. Never any issues with the name

  • by Dianne Williams 30/03/2016 10:42:39 AM

    This offends any sentient member of the Australian citizenry who sees his or her Judaeo- Christian background as a key part of life in this country. Other cultures and ideologies that wish to live in Australia can learn some tolerance for that very culture - Judaeo-Christianity, the same as we are expected to tolerate their beliefs.
    As the saying goes: stand for nothing, and fall for everything. Shame on your pathetically weak behaviour, Principal.

  • by Jacqui 30/03/2016 2:19:22 PM

    Being truely inclusive would mean that religious or cultural references are not ignored or banned. We do not display inclusivity by banning words or celebrations that are important to many of the members of the society. I do not believe that the majority of people who live in Australia want schools to ignore the traditions or cultural celebrations of anyone. We need to teach children to connect with and enjoy celebrations from all over the globe and allow them to understand the reason behind them. Easter and Christmas are Christian celebrations. Why try to hide from that? We risk becoming a society that lacks depth and richness, if we try to ignore the background to religious or cultural celebrations. This principal appears to be allowing his own beliefs (or lack of any) to come into his decision making. Easter Hat Parades happen at Easter. Does he ignore that the Easter long weekend is Easter? A celebration only becomes an issue in inclusivity if certain members of society are not allowed to participate.