A SYDNEY primary school imposed a clapping ban on its students in favour of “silent cheers” because one of its teachers wears hearing aids and found the noise of applause too loud, the NSW Government has said.
The admission by Education Minister Adrian Piccoli came after news.com.au’s story about Elanora Heights Public School’s ban on clapping announced in a school newsletter.
The latest edition of the northern beaches school’s newsletter advised parents that “silent cheering”, “pulling excited faces” and “punching the air” had replaced clapping to respect “members of our school community who are sensitive to noise”.
Mr Piccoli took to radio on Wednesday evening to defend the ban, saying “the school is supporting a teacher with a disability. The teacher has asked for instances where there is cause for applause, for this not to be done loudly”.
Overnight, Elanora Heights school has removed the July 18, “Term 3 Week 1” edition containing the item about the clapping ban from the school’s website.
Since news.com.au sought a response from the school on Wednesday, Mr Piccoli said “this is about accommodating a teacher with a disability”.
“I believe we should be respectful to people with disabilities and if we can slightly change what we do to accommodate them, then we should,” he said.
“I am advised that there is no ban on clapping.”
The newsletter now absent from the school website does say that even silent cheers will take place only when “teachers will prompt the audience” and “if it is needed”.
The item about the clapping ban is entitled “Did you know”.
“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.”
News of the clapping ban was revealed at the same time measures were introduced at a girls’ high school to remove gender specific words.
Cheltenham Girls High School in northwestern Sydney had suggested teachers avoid the words “girls”, “ladies” or “women”, reported the Daily Telegraph.
In April, hugging was banned at a Geelong primary school in Victoria where children were told to find other ways to show affection.
St Patricks Primary School replaced hugging with high fiving or “a knuckle handshake”.