What is Special Religious Education?
The Education Act 1990 states 'in every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion'.
Special religious education (SRE) is education in the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion. Under the Education Act 1990, s. 32, government schools allow time for special religious education. It is delivered by authorised representatives of approved religious groups to students who have nominated that religion. Times for classes are negotiated with the school. (from NSW Department of Education, About religion and ethics)
The following links provide additional information about the implementation of SRE.
WHY IS SRE TAUGHT?
The Catholic Church sees the education of Catholic children in the Faith as integral and key to its mission. The NSW Department of Education (DOE) describes SRE “as an integral part of school activities.” SRE can be seen then, as part of “a well-rounded education that values and supports the intellectual, creative, physical, social and emotional development of each child.”
WHO ARE SRE TEACHERS/CATECHISTS?
Catechists are volunteers who are members of their local Catholic community. They are authorised and trained by their local parish priest and the Dioceses of Wollongong. Catechists come from all walks of life but share the common mission of providing Catholic religious instruction for Catholic children in State Schools.
WHAT IS TAUGHT?
In the Diocese of Wollongong, we have adopted the Christ Our Light and Life teaching curriculum which has been approved for use by Bishop Brian G Mascord, DD. The curriculum uses a systematic approach to faith education and progresses in understanding and complexity as the student moves through their primary schooling years. (Read more about the curriculum here)
HOW CAN YOUR CHILD ATTEND SRE?
Catholic children are always welcome to attend Catholic SRE classes at their school. Usually parents would nominate what religious denomination they wish their child to attend when completing the school enrolment form. Parents also have the right to change the SRE class their child attends at any time or even withdraw them from SRE. This can be done by notifying the principal of your child’s school.
SOME GREAT BENEFITS OF SRE IN SCHOOLING
A Positive Message
We begin with the understanding that we were created by a loving God who calls us to fullness of life. In a culture which often focuses on the negative aspects of life, Catholic SRE is a breath of fresh air, where students are encouraged to see themselves as God sees them – inherently good, full of potential and capable of being a force for good in our world.
The Morals and Values of Jesus
Encouraging children and young people to develop a relationship with Jesus is a key part of Catholic SRE. The curriculums used by Catholic SRE teachers aim to help children and young people make moral choices that are life-giving for themselves and others. Through the exploration of the teachings of Jesus and the stories in the Christian Scriptures, and by encouraging students to pray, Catholic SRE aims to provide children and young people with a framework to help them make choices that recognise the value and importance of our relationship with God, others and our world.
A Pathway for Catholic Sacraments
Children attending Catholic SRE classes receive lessons that give them background preparation for the Sacraments that may be available to their age group. Catholic SRE teachers liaise with the local Catholic Parishes to ensure that students and their families are aware of the Sacramental programs being offered locally.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Do you have any questions about Catholic SRE and how lessons are organised in your child’s school? Or perhaps you would like to meet or speak to a Catholic SRE teacher? Please do not hesitate to contact your local Catholic SRE Coordinator or your local Church Parish office.