Department clarifies school's restrictions on clapping

The NSW Education Department has denied reports that Elanora Heights Public School has issued a total ban on students clapping and cheering, saying the new guidelines only apply at assemblies held once every few weeks.

The new rules – which were announced in the school’s July 18 newsletter – told students to “punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot” when celebrating achievements at school assemblies.

The school, on Sydney’s northern beaches, said the decision was made out of respect to students who are sensitive to noise.

Under the heading “Did you know…that our school has adopted silent cheers at assemblies?” the newsletter reads:

“If you’ve been to a school assembly recently, you may have noticed our students doing silent cheers. Instead of clapping, the students are free to punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot.

“This practice has been adopted to respect members of our school community who are sensitive to noise,” it goes on to say.

“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.”

In a statement provided to The Educator, a spokesman for the NSW Education Department said a total ban on clapping had not been implemented by the school.

“To minimise discomfort to a teacher with a hearing disability that causes acute sensitivity to loud noise, the school has asked students to refrain from clapping and cheering at assemblies. These are held once every few weeks,” he said.

“At other school occasions involving all students in the school, such as sporting events, artistic performances, smaller gatherings of students and staff, there are no restrictions on students clapping or cheering.

“The school’s Parents and Citizens group was consulted and support this decision.”

Yesterday, NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said that the school was also supporting one of the school’s teachers, who wears a hearing aid, by making the changes.

“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,” he said.

“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.”
Elanora Heights Public School was contacted for comment.