FAQ about SRE
Special Religious Education (SRE)
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who needs to be authorised?
- Why is a formal Authorisation process necessary?
- Is it OK to authorise teachers from other Denominations / Congregations?
- What is Cross Authorisation?
ENGAGEMENT FORMS for SRE teachers
- Why do teachers need to fill in two forms?
- Why do the SRE engagement forms need to be witnessed by a JP or other authorised person?
- Why does a copy of the SRE Teacher Engagement Form need to be sent to the Synod Board of Education?
AUTHORISATON CARDS (Green Cards)
- Why are SRE teacher authorisation ‘green cards’ necessary?
- How do I get a SRE teacher authorisation ‘green card’?
- How do I renew my SRE teacher authorisation ‘green card’?
- Why don’t congregations have a stock of SRE teacher authorisation ‘green cards’?
- Why does the paperwork need to be done before an SRE teacher authorisation ’green card’ is issued?
Who needs to be authorised?
Everyone who wants to be involved in SRE ministry in the school environment must be authorised to do so. This includes SRE teachers, SRE helpers, and casual (fill-in) SRE teachers. Even those who are involved in SRE as part of their paid work (ie. minister, pastors, youth/children’s workers) need to comply with the Uniting Church authorisation procedure.
To help ensure that SRE teachers are committed to doing a good job and are appropriate people to be teaching children, the Department of Education requires all SRE providers, such as the Uniting Church, to follow certain procedures before SRE teachers are allowed to teach. This process is known as “Authorisation” and requires the completion of a volunteer declaration (or previously a Prohibited Employment Declaration – PED) and an SRE teacher engagement form (EF5) before an SRE authorisation ‘green card’ can be signed off.
The Working With Children Check Volunteer declaration needs to be completed because NSW State Law requires that all people who work with children must declare they are not prohibited from doing so. Congregations should check that SRE teachers have signed a Volunteer declaration and that this is kept in the churches secure files.
IMPORTANT: From 11th February 2013, ALL NEW SRE Teachers will need to have a Working with Children Check clearance number BEFORE they can commence. For more information CLICK HERE. This information includes downloadable FACT SHEETS.
The SRE teacher Engagement form (EF5) is necessary so that:
- Teachers sign off that they understand what is expected of them as an authorised SRE teacher.
- Teachers make a Statutory Declaration that they meet the conditions required by all people who work in NSW State Schools. The Department of Education requires that SRE teachers do not have convictions for the provision of prohibited drugs, violence, sexual assault or any crime against a minor. The Volunteer declaration does not cover all these things.
A JP (Justice of the Peace) or other authorised person is needed as a witness because the declaration regarding criminal convictions is a Statutory Declaration. For the full list of who can witness a Statutory Declaration see: the Australian Government Attorney-General’s website
There are two reasons why it is necessary to send a copy of each teacher’s engagement form to the Synod (Uniting Mission & Education):
- It provides an independent record that a teacher is authorised. Teachers’ forms sometimes get forgotten, lost, or damaged – especially as SRE coordinators, ministers and Church Council members change over time. If a copy is held independently at the Uniting Mission & Education it is easy to check who is authorised and who is not. This can be very important in the case of insurance claims or where there might be a complaint about a teacher.
- Each year the Uniting Church is asked by the Department of Education to declare that all SRE teachers from our churches have signed a volunteer declaration and that we have a process in place to ensure that teachers met the DET requirements.
‘Green cards’ are a pocket-sized authorisation card SRE teachers and helpers carry with them when going into a school because it is a quick way for a school to tell if someone is currently an authorised SRE teacher.
Green cards are issued to new teachers after they have correctly completed an SRE teacher engagement form and a copy has been received by the Synod (Uniting Mission & Education). Green cards are valid for a maximum of 2 years.
NOTE: NEW Authorisation cards will be issued from February 2013, to coincide with the introduction of Working With Children Check clearance numbers for new volunteers and employees.
If you are an existing authorised teacher, you need to ensure you have completed an EF5 enagagement form (which has been in use since term 4, 2011). If you are unsure if you have completed this, please contact Emma Parr, the Synod SRE coordinator, by phone (02 8267 4290) or email (email@example.com). Emma can verify your authorisation requirements with you. Please make sure you include the name and location of your church and where you teach SRE in this communication.
Uniting Mission & Education asks each congregation requesting green cards who the cards are intended for. By checking that these teachers are authorised before sending out the ‘green cards’ we can help congregations ensure that teachers are correctly authorised to be involved in SRE ministry. We understand it can be hard to keep up with paper work but this necessary process is put in place to help ensure the safety and protection of students and the dedicated SRE teachers and helpers who minister to them.
Green cards are authorisation certificates. The person signing the card is saying that the teacher named on the card is fully authorised by the congregation. To sign a green card for a teacher who is not yet authorised is dishonest and puts the teacher, the church and students at risk.
Furthermore, if you give someone a green card and they have not filled in a volunteer declaration (or previously the Prohibited Employment Declaration) that is kept by the church, you have broken the law.
If you give someone a green card and they haven’t filled in an SRE teacher engagement form you are not being fair to them. They may not understand what is expected of them as an SRE teacher or they may unintentionally be entering a school when they are unable or unwilling to meet the requirements of the Department of Education and Training.
Congregations should only authorise as teachers and helpers people who are members or adherents of their own congregation. When a congregation authorises their own teachers, it means they are taking responsibility for them and they are more likely to recognise their teachers’ ministry, pray for them and support them.
Congregations should only authorise people when they have a good standing and ongoing relationship with that person. Congregations should never authorise people they do not know very well or about whom they have any doubts.
Cross authorisation is required whenever SRE is taught in classes that involve more than one denomination. Each teacher goes through the full authorisation process of their own church and then all the churches involved sign to say they agree to each teacher teaching student from their denomination as well. Cross authorisation does not require you to know the other teacher personally, but you should never fell pressured to cross authorise someone whose teaching methods, lesson content or reputation you are uncomfortable with.
Have you found what you were looking for?
If you haven’t found the answers you were looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact Emma Parr, SRE and Child Protection Coordinator (8267 4290; firstname.lastname@example.org).