How does SRE work?
Special Religious Education (SRE) – or Scripture as it was known in the past – allows students in NSW public schools to question, explore and make important discoveries about life and the relevance of Christian faith, hope and love. The NSW Education Act (1990) provides opportunity for this learning, and it is your right as a parent to know how SRE/Scripture will be delivered and who will be delivering it.
Who teaches SRE?
Only a representative from an Education Department approved provider of SRE can teach SRE. Approved providers are churches or denominations who train and authorise teachers so that the Education Department can maintain their ‘duty of care’ to a wide variety of students in their schools. The process for authorising Christian SRE teachers ensures that students learn from trained and engaging teachers. You can read more about our scripture teachers here.
What does a SRE lesson look like?
Our SRE curricula have been designed to help children discover for themselves as they explore the Christian faith in their lessons. Encouraging students to ask questions is an important part of our approach, and lessons may include stories, games, music and plenty of discussion.
What will my child be taught about Christianity?
The SRE curricula used by our Christian teachers are based on the common core beliefs of the Christian faith centring on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Teachers from Christian churches and denominations agree to teach a common curriculum that focuses on the essentials of the Christian faith and the impact these beliefs have had on our society and the world. If you would like more detail about the content of a specific curriculum, you can follow the links on our curriculum page. If you are unsure which curriculum is being used at your child’s school, contact the school directly and they can obtain the information for you.
Training required to be an SRE teacher
In order to be a Christian SRE teacher, the church or denomination they represent has to be a Department of Education “approved provider.” As such, all approved providers annually confirm with the Department that their teachers are meeting its requirements. This is in effect a form of licensing SRE providers.
The Department expects all SRE teachers to have initial and ongoing teacher training including classroom management and child protection issues. In keeping with the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian requirement for those working with children, all SRE teachers must have a current Working with Children Check (WWCC) number, which has been verified by an approved organisation and has an expiry date.
In addition to what is required by the Department of Education, all Christian SRE teachers should have
- Teacher training to a standard agree by all the CSRE members, which includes a whole unit on classroom management;
- Child protection training and Work Health & Safety training to a recognised standard; and,
- Continuing professional development.
Only when the WWCC number is verified and the above training is completed, can the Christian SRE teacher apply for authorisation from their church or denomination. At the end of the authorisation process, a document is issued that endorses the teacher for a period of time.
The Department annually approves “providers” of SRE and the list of approved providers can be viewed here.
SRE in Primary Schools
Christian SRE (aka Scripture) in primary schools
In many primary schools, a student in Christian SRE will be in a “combined arrangement”, a term the Department of Education uses for SRE classes where several Christian faiths combine their teachers to deliver a common curriculum.
The local representatives of Department approved SRE providers, like the ministers or priests or leaders, agree amongst themselves how they will combine their volunteer teachers and what common curriculum they will use. Often this arrangement is managed by a local Christian SRE Coordinator appointed by the representatives. The school is provided with the contact details of the local Christian SRE Coordinator who would welcome parents and caregivers interest in the program.
The Christian SRE teachers understand that they represent a variety of Christian faiths and that what they teach is commonly agreed. This arrangement doesn’t prevent a faith making a special time when their students are taught the distinctives of that Christian faith.
The Department’s RE Implementation Procedures allow for a face-to-face teaching time of at least 30 minutes per week. Schools integrate this time into their timetable around other scheduled classes and events. Where possible, most schools have 8-9 weeks each term when SRE is taught.
Students whose parents don’t want them to participate in SRE are given other meaningful work to do in another location during the SRE time.
Christian SRE teachers should use a curriculum. The common curricula used in primary schools are listed on this page. Teachers are encouraged to enrich their lessons with other appropriate resources.
SRE assemblies are often used to bring a whole year or stage together for a special event designed to enhance one of the outcomes expected from the curriculum.
The Department approves “providers” of SRE and a list of approved providers can be viewed from the link at the bottom of this page from their site. Annually providers give the Department an assurance that their teachers are trained and their Working with Children Check number has been verified.