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Special Religious Education (NSW only)

People who live in the ACT should read the information on Christian Religious Education (CRE) as the information below only pertains to those in NSW.

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  1. What is Special Religious Education?
  2. Who does the teaching?
  3. How do apply to be a Special Religious Education teacher?
  4. What’s involved in the authorisation process?
  5. What about training?

What is Special Religious Education (SRE)?

Special Religious Education is the space made in school learning for a child to learn about their family’s faith tradition. SRE can be from different faith perspective and aims to nurture the spiritual wellbeing of students.

Parents are required to give permission for their children to attend the Special Religious Education Classes, usually via the school enrolment form or a notice sent to parents annually.

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.

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 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 Basic and Enrichment Training. 

How do I apply to be an SRE teacher?

A person may apply to volunteer to become an SRE teacher on behalf of their congregation and the Uniting Church. 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 (via the authorisation process) to ensure the children in schools can receive quality SRE and volunteer teachers are adequately prepared and supported in their roles. This includes training to ensure representatives are equipped and prepared for their role as an SRE teacher in a school.

What’s involved in the Authorisation process?

The Synod (Uniting Church NSW and ACT) has an authorisation process in place to help Scripture teachers and their congregations to comply with the regulations set out by the Department of Education and Communities.

All SRE teachers and helpers must be appropriately authorised to enter any government school to teach SRE.
Basic authorisation requirements are:
*Conversation with your minister/church senior leader
*Complete the SRE Engagement form
*Providing your Working with Children Check clearance number
*Participate in Safe Church Awareness Training (and refresher workshops every 3 years to stay up to date)
*Participate in SRE Teacher Basic Training (6 modules) and ongoing training of at least 2 hours per year.

The SRE 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 more detailed summary of the authorisation requirements for all SRE teachers and helpers.

1. Apply for a Working With Children  Check (WWCC) clearance number &
Attend an SCTA-endorsed Safe Church Workshop
If you haven’t already   got a clearance number or attended a workshop, it is important that you   arrange these as soon as practical. New SRE teachers cannot be   authorised without a WWCC number. If you have not attended a Safe Church   Workshop you can only be provisionally authorised.
A Safe Church refresher is required every 3 years.

The   link to apply for a Working With Children Check and
a calendar of Safe Church workshops is available via:

2. SRE Basic & Enrichment Training
Attend a session locally if available or complete modules via online training or small group DVD series.
If  applicable, copy records of other relevant study/courses completed to apply   for recognition of prior learning when submitting your SRE engagement form or  update letter. It is expected that all SRE teachers complete all 6 Basic Training Modules and then ongoing opportunities for  development.

Please  see the ‘Training’ page for dates and further information.

3. Complete and sign a Uniting Church SRE Application for Engagement Form,  including having a conversation with your Minister or other authorising agent for your church council.
The SRE engagement form registers you as an SRE teacher coming from a Uniting Church   congregation and requires you sign off on the SRE rules and regulations,   including a Statutory Declaration. If you have a Minister or specified Pastor   in placement, she/he will be your authorising agent on behalf of your church   council. If there is no Minister/Pastor in placement, one of your Church   Council Executive can act as the authorising agent on behalf of the Church   Council.

SRE Engagement forms and advice for authorising agents is available above.

4. Send a copy of your SRE Application for Engagement form to:
The SRE Coordinator
Uniting Mission & Education
16 Masons Drive
North Parramatta NSW 2151
or email: sre@nswact.uca.org.au
Once you’ve returned your engagement form, and all other requirements have been met, you will be issued with an authorisation card. Authorisation cards are currently issued for a maximum of 2 years. You will need to reapply for authorisation before your current authorisation expires to continue to teach SRE. 

Uniting Mission & Education needs to keep a record of all authorised Uniting Church SRE teachers across the Synod and has the responsibility of ensuring all SRE teachers and helpers meet the requirements BEFORE being authorised or re-authorised.
5. The school(s) need to be informed in writing of  each Authorised SRE teachers name, contact details, and date of birth.
The school(s) you  teach at needs to have a record from the Uniting Church that you meet the requirements to teach SRE. This can be sent to the school as a Combined Arrangements form if you are working across denominations in your school (2018_SRE_Combined_Arrangements).This is necessary because the local school is responsible for checking the Education Departments “not to be employed (NTBE)” database which flags for any individuals who have been excluded from volunteering or working in Public Schools, even if they may have a valid Working With Children Check.
6. All SRE teachers and helpers need  to carry a valid SRE authorisation card and wear a name badge which identifies there approved provider (a UCA logo/named)
An authorisation  card is a pocket sized authorisation certificate you need to carry with you   whenever you are involved in SRE, so you can prove you have been authorised   to do so. New authorisation cards are only issued once a satisfactory SRE engagement form or update letter has  been completed and returned.


What about training?

For SRE in NSW, the Department of Education and Communities requires that each denomination ensure that all SRE teachers have access to and complete training relevant to SRE teaching, particularly for classroom management and child protection. Through inter-denominational cooperation, SRE teacher training courses are offered by a variety of providers and in most cases cross-accredited by that teachers authorising denomination. In recent years, most SRE basic training certificate modules and full courses have been run in partnership with the Baptist Association of NSW/ACT.

Please see the ‘Training’ page for dates and further information.

All SRE teachers must show evidence of relevant training before they can renew their authorisation. If you are unsure what is counted as relevant training, please contract Emma  (02 8838 8977 / EmmaP@nswact.uca.org.au)


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