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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 SRE teacher authorisation process? 

What is Special Religious Education (SRE)?

Special Religious Education (SRE) is the program as part of NSW Government Schools for children to learn in their religious tradition and aims to nurture the spiritual wellbeing of students. SRE is taught by trained representatives, often from several religions, recognising the diversity of the school community. SRE is taught using Approved curriculum materials developed to best fit the setting and the faith tradition. For more information about SRE Approved curricula see: https://childrensministry.kinsta.cloud/sre/curriculum/ 

The NSW Department of Education overseas the SRE program and those teaching SRE must by trained and authorised by an Approved Provider of SRE. The full list of NSW Approved Providers of SRE can be accessed here (hyperlink: https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/religion-and-ethics/approved-sre-providers).

Parents or Guardians 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/guardians to indicate which SRE classes they would like their children to attend.

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, participate in Child Protection/Safe Church Training and SRE Teacher Basic training modules and ongoing 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 SRE training to ensure representatives are equipped and prepared for their role as an SRE teacher in a school. 

What’s involved in the SRE Teacher 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.

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) Obtain Working With Children Check (WWCC) Clearance number.
     Applications online: www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au
2) Attend an SCTA Endorsed Safe Church Awareness Workshop
(or refresher, if 3 years since you last attended).
  Training calendars online: www.ume.nswact.uca.org.au/safe-church

3) Participate in SRE training to raise skills & knowledge for SRE.
There are face-to-face workshops and online options. Individuals with
prior learning relevant to SRE teaching (such as tertiary qualifications,
short courses such as lay preacher subjects, youth or children’s ministry
seminars, etc) can provide evidence of this to apply for Recognition of
their Prior Learning. This is assessed on a case by case basis.

The Basic SRE training framework that must be satisfied for new SRE
teachers now includes 7 modules from 2019. Module 7 explicitly reviews the Department of Education’s code of conduct which includes social media policy.
         More information: www.childrensministry.org.au/sre/sre-training/

4) Complete and sign a Uniting Church SRE Application for Engagement Form (2018 version), including having a conversation with your minister or other authorising agent for your Church Council (they need to support your authorisation to represent the church as an SRE teacher). 
5) Send a copy of your completed Application for SRE Engagement form to Uniting Mission & Education. When your completed form is received and you meet the requirements you can be issued an SRE Authorisation card, which is valid up to 2 years.
You will need to carry your current SRE authorisation card and wear a Uniting Church name badge (or a School issued badge) when at school for SRE to show you have authorisation from an approved provider of SRE.
6) Your local authorising agent needs to send a letter to the school/s where you intend to teach SRE, advising them of your authorisation, including the details of your name, best contact phone/email, and date of birth (So the school can verify you name is not on the Department of Education ‘Do not employ’ register’).



This needs to be done annually or as required for a new teacher starting part way through the year.

This letter to the school can be done as a cross denominational group where that is how teachers are organised.

A template for both single church SRE teams and cross-authorisation are available on the SRE website.



If you looking to continue teaching SRE beyond the expiry date on your authorisation, you will need to apply for renewal BEFORE your cards expiry date. 

To do this you will need to give evidence of your continuing education for SRE, your safe church workshop update, and completing a lesson observation and reflection. The information form the lesson observation and reflection gives us valuable feedback as to what training and development topics should be highlighted in future, in updates or training sessions. 

These elements can be outlined on a renewal letter (a template for which can be found at the top of this page). You can complete this letter as a team from your church, and have it signed by the Authorising agent for your congregation. 



You can begin to apply for SRE Authorisation at any time, but you will need to have completed your requirements including training before you can be authorised to go into Schools to teach SRE. As such its best to apply as early as possible, not wait until the beginning of the school year you wish to teach in. It usually takes 2-3 weeks (sometimes longer) between submitting your SRE Authorisation request to UME and receiving your new SRE authorisation card in the mail, if all your requirements have been met.


Who runs SRE 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 and an observed lesson before they can renew their authorisation. If you are unsure what is counted as relevant training, please contract Emma  (EmmaP@nswact.uca.org.au)


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