Surly primary school children shake their heads at teachers and refuse to stand during the national anthem after it was played during an assembly
- Heidi Murphy claims she witnessed seven or eight students refuse to stand
- They shook their heads at teachers and stayed seated in protest of the anthem
- The protest comes days before millions of students are expected to strike
A group of students at a primary school have refused to stand during the national anthem, it has been claimed.
Heidi Murphy attended a school assembly in Victoria late last week when the school asked all students and guests to rise for Advance Australia Fair.
She noticed a group of ‘about seven or eight kids sprinkled through the grade six area of the hall’ shake their heads at teachers when they tried to coax them into joining their classmates.
The students refused to participate and stayed seated on the ground in protest of the anthem.
She made the call in to 3AW Mornings, whose host Neil Mitchell questioned whether the kids decided to strike on their own or if they were influenced by their parents.
A group of ‘seven or eight kids sprinkled through the grade six area of the hall’ shook their heads at teachers when they tried to coax them into joining their classmates (stock image)
In grade six children are usually 10 or 11, and Mitchell argued they may have been swayed to take action by their families.
Regardless, he said the decision showed a lack of respect from the students.
‘If they don’t stand, they should go and practice algebra somewhere else and not come to the assembly at all,’ he told listeners.
Anne-Maree Kliman, president of the Victorian Principals Association, said all government schools in Australia were required to play the national anthem at least once a week.
Most schools opted to do this at the beginning of weekly assemblies, which was likely what happened at the school Ms Murphy attended, she said.
Ms Kliman argued standing and singing for the national anthem helps to instill basic values educators are expected to teach their students, like respect.
‘I think, first of all, that in primary school we teach children right from the outset why we do stand for the national anthem and also acknowledge country.
‘It’s about starting from prep so they realise there is a purpose to it. It’s about the respect we show our country and about us being united as a country.’
Anne-Maree Kliman, president of the Victorian Principals Association, said all government schools in Australia were required to play the national anthem at least once a week
While some families do take offence to the anthem, Ms Kliman said it was important to keep an open dialogue with parents and encourage them to support the school’s decisions.
A good way to do this, she said, is through regular and informative newsletters, and to ensure teachers are developing a relationship with students parents.
She told Mitchell if she were in the position of disciplining the children involved in the silent protest, she wouldn’t ‘make a scene during assembly’.
Instead, she’d quietly pull them out at the end of assembly and ask them to justify their decision before organising a meeting with parents to see if they could come to a resolution.
The protest comes just days before millions of students around the world prepare to walk out of class and strike on September 20.
The global movement has been encouraged to demand action on climate change.
The School Strike For Climate is an international movement inspired by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who staged a protest in August 2018 and has since travelled the globe demanding governments take action.