Via new.com.au: Clapping has been banned at a Sydney primary school which has introduced “silent cheering”, “pulling excited faces” and “punching the air” to respect students who are “sensitive to noise”. The school now only allows its pupils “to conduct a silent cheer” when prompted by teachers and says the practice “reduces fidgeting”.
Elanora Heights Public School, which is on Sydney’s northern beaches, announced its new “silent cheer” policy in its latest school newsletter.
The ban on clapping at Elanora Heights Primary School emerged on the same day that an exclusive girls school banned teachers from calling “ladies” or “women” in favour of “gender-neutral” terms.
In its July 18 newsletter, the Elanora school has published an item under the headline “Did you know” that “our school has adopted silent cheers at assembly’s” (sic). “If you’ve been to a school assembly recently, you may have noticed our students doing silent cheers,” the item reads. “Instead of clapping, the students are free to punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot. The practice has been adopted to respect members of our school community who are sensitive to noise.”
“When you attend an assembly, teachers will prompt the audience to conduct a silent cheer if it is needed. Teachers have also found the silent cheers to be a great way to expend children’s energy and reduce fidgeting.”
The ban follows a direction at exclusive Cheltenham Girls High School in northwest Sydney for teachers to avoid discrimination and support LGBTI students by avoiding the words “girls”, “ladies” or “women”.
The measure followed the introduction of the Safe Schools anti-bullying program and teachers were told at a meeting if they did not comply they could be deemed homophobic and breaking the law.
The school also has a “Queer-Straight alliance” club and holds gender equality events such as Wear it Purple Day. Last month, it lowered the Aboriginal flag to raise the rainbow flag at half-mast following the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Local MP Damien Tudehope told the Daily Telegraph that parents feared their daughters might be ostracised if they didn’t comply with Rainbow Day and Purple Day.
Elanora Heights Public School’s ban on clapping in favour of silent cheering comes after several schools have banned hugging. In April, hugging was banned at a Geelong primary school and children were told to find other ways to show affection. St. Patrick’s Primary School principal John Grant said “nothing in particular” had caused hugging to be replaced by high fiving or “a knuckle handshake”. “But in this current day and age we are really conscious about protecting kids and teaching them from a young age that you have to be cautious,” Mr Grant said.
He said he had spoken to teachers about his decision to ban hugging and then the teachers had spoken to classes, instructing the children on different methods of showing affection. He had not sent any correspondence home to parents but said there would now be a letter going home on Monday.
“There’s a range of methods including a high five or a particular knuckle handshake where they clunk knuckles as a simple way of saying ‘well done’,” Mr. Grant said. “There are also verbal affirmations and acknowledgments.”
Children at the school have been enthusiastic huggers, he said, with hugs given out to teachers and other children. “We have a lot of kids who walk up and hug each other and we’re trying to encourage all of us to respect personal space,” Mr Grant said. “It really comes back to not everyone is comfortable in being hugged.”
Comment from Elanora Heights Public School about the clapping ban has been sought by news.com.au.