Special Religious Education (NSW only)
People who live in the ACT should read the information on CRE, Christian Religious Education as the information below only pertains to those in NSW.
Quick Links -
- SRE Guide – a little booklet of essential information for SRE Teachers
- SRE Engagement Form (EF5) – For all SRE teachers and helpers
- LARGE PRINT VERSION – SRE Engagement Form (EF5)
- Advice for SRE Authorising Agents (a useful checklist)
- Who can witness a Statutory Declaration (such as the one on the EF5)?
- Volunteer/Student Declaration
- SRE Joint-Denominational Arrangements Form
- Template letter to Schools – single provider
- Name tags – SRE BLANK
- SRE & Chaplaincy – Guidelines from ICCOREIS
- What is Special Religious Education?
- Who does the teaching?
- How do I become a Special Religious Education teacher?
- What is authorisation?
- What about training?
- What is the Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools ICCOREIS)?
What is Special Religious Education (SRE)?
SRE, from the Christian perspective, is the opportunity the churches have to share the gospel with the children in government schools. Other religious faiths may also enter schools to teach their children.
Parents are required to give permission or not for their children to attend the Special Religious Education Classes.
The NSW Education Reform Act of 1990 states: in every government school time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion to be given by a member of the clergy or other religious teacher of that persuasion, but the total number of hours so allowed in a year is not to exceed, for each child, the number of school weeks in the year. (Implementing Special Religious Education -GUIDELINESFORSCHOOLS, PROVIDERS OF SRE AND PARENTS. NSW Department of School Education. 1995)
Who does the teaching?
SRE teachers and helpers are volunteers from local congregations who could be lay volunteers, ministers, or youth/children/family workers who have a heart for teaching children and young people about Christian faith. Local church congregations are responsible for initiating and maintaining Special Religious Education in their local schools where this is a ministry supported by the congregation mission and vision. Congregations and teachers who are involved in SRE have support from Uniting Mission and Education, who are responsible for the oversight of SRE in NSW Uniting Churches and accountable back to the Department of Education and Communities as the ‘Approved Provider of SRE’ for Uniting Churches in NSW.
SRE teachers must be recommended by their minister or church council, complete an SRE teacher engagement form, and participate in Child Protection/Safe Church Training and SRE Teacher Enrichment Training.
How do I become an SRE teacher?
A person may volunteer to become an SRE teacher on behalf of their congregation. The minister and church council must consider the suitability of each volunteer. Volunteering does not necessarily mean becoming an SRE teacher as certain requirements need to be met to ensure the children in schools can receive quality SRE and volunteer teachers are adequately prepared and supported in their roles.
Every SRE teacher and helper must be appropriately authorised to enter any government school. Authorisation includes participating in SCTA Child Protection/Safe Church Training, completing an SRE teacher engagement form (EF5) and committing to training and development as an SRE teacher.
What is Authorisation?
We are blessed to have so many dedicated Special Religious Education (SRE or Scripture) teachers across the Synod who make Scripture such a valuable and widespread ministry with young people in our Government Schools. In order to continue to make this ministry possible we need to ensure we are complying with the relevant policies (such as child protection) set out by the Government and the Education Department.
The Synod has an authorisation process in place to help Scripture teachers and their congregations to comply with these regulations. This includes the completion of a Child Protection ‘volunteer declaration’ as well as a UCA specific SRE teacher engagement form, which includes a statutory declaration that will need to be witnessed by JP or other authorised person (See the Australian Government Attorney-General’s website for a list of persons who before whom a Statutory Declaration can be made). Written advice must also be given to the school and a valid ‘green card’ authorisation certificate must be carried to show you have been authorised as per the Uniting church authorisation procedure.
This authorisation process must be followed not just by volunteer SRE teachers, but also Ministers, Youth Workers, Deacons, helpers and SRE relief teachers.
Below is a summary of the authorisation requirements for all SRE teachers and helpers.
Volunteer Declaration & a calendar of workshops is available via:
SRE Engagement forms and advice for authorising agents is available above.
A sample letter to schools is available above.
In 2012, all Uniting Church SRE teachers will need to complete an EF5 SRE engagement form, to continue to be authorised. New authorisation cards will be issued once the new engagement form has been completed.
If you are yet to attend a Safe Church Workshop, a provisional authorisation card will be issued. Once you have attended a workshop, simply contact the SRE Coordinator with details of the course and a new authorisation card will be sent to you.
What about training?
In NSW, the Department of Education and Communities has requested that each denomination be responsible for training their authorised SRE teachers. Through inter-denominational cooperation, SRE teacher training courses are offered by a variety of provided and in most cases cross-accredited by that teachers authorising denomination.
Uniting Mission & Education is currently working with ICCOREIS to streamline SRE teacher training across denominations – We all want to promote quality SRE in Government Schools and as such are developing a common Basic Training Standards Framework and methods of recognising prior learning. The aim of this training standard framework is to encourage quality SRE by ensuring Accredited SRE teachers are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be the best SRE teachers they can be, for the benefit of the growing generation.
What is the Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS)?
This body was established in 1972 and is a representative organisation of the major churches in NSW and is responsible to its member churches. It exists to provide a fully representative context for inter-church discussion and negotiations on religious education in government schools.
In 2012, ICCOREIS initiated a process to develop a promotion arm called ‘Christian SRE’ to assist with inter-denominational partnership for support, promotion, recruitment, and fundraising.
ICCOREIS has some excellent resources which provide guidelines for organising, teaching, and coordinating Special Religious Education in Public Schools. The ICCOREIS SRE Handbook and Guidelines for Joint-Denominational SRE Employment Boards are available via the publications page of the ICCOREIS website (http://www.iccoreis.asn.au/publications.htm). ICCOREIS also produces an SRE Update – a newsletter featuring happenings in SRE, shared stories and helpful tips for teaching - 3 times per year.