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.
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
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.
Christian Religious Education (CRE) in the ACT
The ACT Churches’ Council recognises that the Education Act 2004 affirms the place of Christian Education in Schools (CEIS) in the ACT.
Section 29 of the current ACT Government Education Act 2004:
If parents of children at a government school ask the principal for their children to receive religious education in a particular religion, the principal must ensure that reasonable time is allowed for their children’s religious education in that religion.
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.
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 between submitting your SRE Authorisation request 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.
All SRE teachers must show evidence of relevant Safe Church training and an observed lesson before they can renew their authorisation. If you are unsure what is counted as relevant training, please contact the Uniting Church State SRE Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org