AAP

A trial of secular ethics classes for students who do not want to attend scripture lessons will begin in 10 NSW primary schools on Tuesday, the state government says.

The lessons for students in years five and six focus on increasing ethical awareness and decision-making, and have never before been trialled in Australia.

NSW Education Minister Verity Firth says pupils will be encouraged to engage in discussions about fairness, honesty, care, rights and responsibilities.

"The ethics course is an alternative for parents who don't chose to send their children to religious scripture classes," she said in a statement.

The ethics lessons will be delivered by specially trained volunteers and last between 30-45 minutes per week over a 10-week period.

The trial was developed by experts at the independent St James Ethics Centre in collaboration with the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW.

Religious leaders, including senior members of the Sydney Anglicans, have raised concerns about the pilot, with many believing the classes may jeopardise religious education.

Simon Longstaff, Executive Director of the St James Ethics Centre said the intention was not to eliminate religion from schools.

"We simply ask that the place of religion in the lives of some children not be maintained at the expense of other children," he said in a statement.

"How can it be just for any child to be denied meaningful activity?"

Parents will also be able to opt to have their child not attend either scripture or ethics classes.

Ms Firth said she was looking forward to feedback on the trial.

Among the institutions taking part are Baulkham Hills North, Bungendore, Crown Street, Darlinghurst, Ferncourt, Haberfield, Hurstville, Leichhardt, Randwick and Rozelle public schools.