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TEACHING RELIGION THE AUSSIE WAY: A Religious Studies Curriculum from the Anglican Schools in Australia The Reverend Peter Laurence Chief Executive Officer, Anglican Schools Commission WA President, Australian Anglican Schools Network Background and Philosophy

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A Religious Studies Curriculum from the Anglican Schools

in Australia

The Reverend Peter Laurence

Chief Executive Officer, Anglican Schools Commission WA

President, Australian Anglican Schools Network

background and philosophy
Background and Philosophy

Growing up today can be challenging and

confusing ... in times of rapid change, many

young people can experience a sense of

emptiness as they search for spiritual meaning,

truth and purpose in their lives…

  • Drug use and binge drinking is widespread amongst teenagers
  • Eating disorders and self harm are common
  • Australia and the USA have amongst the highest rates of youth suicide in the developed world
The long and rich tradition of the Christian

faith offers an alternative and this is one

reason Anglican/Episcopal schools place emphasis on the importance of RAVE / CRS / RAP / CAVE/ CRAVE / RE / RS / Religion

Religion offers answers to the big questions in life. It provides a firm foundation and a clear sense of direction…


“ … the way we deliver a Christian and Religious education will become one increasingly important element in developing the distinctive educational identity of our schools.”

  • Archbishop Peter Carnley,
  • Former Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, at the Launch of
  • CRS Progress Map

RAVE / CRS differs from other learning areas in that it raises enduring questions that cut right to the heart of what it means to be human

The answers to these questions are not set in stone but this shouldn’t prevent students from addressing them…

As Socrates famously declared:

“The unexamined life is not worth living”

Q1. If applicable, can you recall 3 topics studied in your own CRS curriculum when you attended school?

Q2. What would you hope / expect to see

in a CRS curriculum?


The 1872 Victorian Education Act declared

public education should be ‘free, compulsory

and secular’... other states soon followed suit

The decision was taken as a reaction to

religious indoctrination

A clear distinction should be drawn

between education and indoctrination

The CRS Progress Map attempts to do this

Christian Religious Studies is an academic

subject. It is incumbent on educators to provide an

engaging and intellectually rigorous program

that nourishes students. They should feel safe and

confident to think, question, challenge, investigate

and reflect as they undertake their personal

journeys searching for spiritual meaning and truth

Anglican Schools Commission

Christian Religious Studies Progress Map


Every teacher in an Anglican school is a

teacher of CRS

  • In the classroom in their own learning areas
  • In their relationships and interactions with


  • The CRS Project Map comprises six major outcomes relating to:
  • The Bible
  • Story of the Church
  • Philosophy and Beliefs
  • World Religions
  • Meditation Prayer and Worship
  • Ethical Decision Making and Living
the bible
The Bible

Content, history, structure, interpretation,

referencing, key figures, key narratives

and their meaning, key teaching,

contemporary relevance…etc

story of the church
Story of the Church

Origins, history, development,

Anglicanism, structure,

community, key figures,

seasons, rituals…etc

philosophy and beliefs
Philosophy and Beliefs

Nature of God, miracles, prayer,

love, truth, life after death,

religious language, arguments for

and against existence of God,

problem of evil and suffering,

creationism v evolution, faith v


world religions
World Religions

Origins, founders, history, symbols, place of

worship, holy city, scriptures, beliefs, core

teaching, rituals, ceremonies, pilgrimage…etc

Living in a multicultural, multi-faith society

understanding, empathy, tolerance

meditation prayer and worship
Meditation Prayer and Worship

Gentleness, appreciation of

nature’s awe and wonder (God’s creation), stillness and silence, spiritual reflection, prayer, sacred objects, icons, music…etc

Hitting the ‘pause’ button

ethical decision making living
Ethical Decision Making & Living

Identify values i.e. manners /

sharing / honesty / respect…etc

Recognise moral choices

Role models

Community service

progress map
Progress Map

The Progress Map provides guidance and

structure for the development of a CRS

curriculum within Anglican / Episcopalian


The Progress Map structures each of the six

outcomes into four learning phases:

  • Early Childhood (EC) typically K – Year 3
  • Middle Childhood (MC) typically Years 3 - 7
  • Early Adolescence (EA) typically Years 7 - 10
  • Late Adolescence (LA) typically Years 10 - 12
It is a guide for developing curriculum and

Units. It does not prescribe what must be


I noticed that 8X didn’t

learn about Genesis Ch.2

on Tuesday morning during

Period 3 as stipulated !!!

Spiral Curriculum

Each of the six outcomes is addressed at an increasingly

complex level as students progress up through the four

learning phases

A typical Early Childhood Year 2 philosophy lesson on ‘Love’

might draw out the distinction between liking and loving i.e.

hands up who loves: a. Ice cream b. PlayStation c. Pet dog

d. Grandma

By Early Adolescence a Year 10 lesson on ‘Love’ might be

exploring the different forms of love i.e.

Eros – sexual love

Philo – brotherly/sisterly love

Agape – unconditional love



what students are expected to achieve

Outcome level description

what students know and can achieve

for a specific learning phase


describes changes in learning and achievement as

students progress through learning phases i.e. from EC to MC


help identify attainment of student outcomes by fleshing out the learning phase level description

Sample Teaching and Learning strategies



“Students acquire an understanding and appreciation of the content, history, structure and principles of interpretation of the Bible. Students develop the skills needed to locate relevant information.”




Students understand that the bible is the Christian text that relates stories about people. They can identify Jesus as one of its main historical characters who features in the latter part of the book called the New Testament or Christian Scriptures.


During this period students develop a simple vocabulary for use in discussing religious concepts such as belief, love and forgiveness. They also become familiar with bible stories and characters and are able to recognize that Jesus was a person. They are aware of the major divisions of the Bible and that stories belong to the Jewish Scriptures [Old Testament] or the Christian Scriptures [New Testament]. The telling and acting out of Bible stories is fundamental to learning in this phase of development. Many of the important biblical stories can be covered during this phase although some care should be exercised. For example, it is best to avoid stories which place children or young people in vulnerable situations as in the story of Abraham and the attempted sacrifice of Isaac or to avoid an emphasis on brutality as might occur with a detailed description of the Crucifixion of Jesus. There will need to be an appreciation of the literal nature of young children's understanding and a sensitivity to their home background.


1. identify the Bible as a book about God and people

2. recognise historical Bible characters as real human beings

3. relate their understanding of Jesus as a great religious figure who lived his life on earth a long time ago

4. understand that Jesus was a real person

5. represent the main events in Jesus’ life

6. recall and retell a variety of parables as told by Jesus

7. demonstrate a basic understanding of the Bible as the story of God’s people

8. identify that stories relating to Jesus are found in the latter part of the Bible called the New Testament (Christian Scriptures)





Students understand that the bible is the story of God’s people and can use its structure to locate specific events. They are able to investigate parables and draw meaning from them in the context of their personal lives.


Students in this age group can re-visit biblical stories with a view to understanding more of their background, the customs and ways of life of people in the biblical stories as compared with people of their own day. The stories can be related using different forms of media and the creative arts. They can investigate and understand that bible stories such as parables can be seen as instructional stories with deeper meaning or as simple stories of the time. Students are able to describe significant events in the Bible, such as the Exodus, Passover, the death and resurrection of Jesus and make connections between these events. They are able to identify and describe the lives of key figures such as Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Paul and to say why these people are important. They are able to develop a simple time line of biblical events and place core narratives in their approximate place. They begin to appreciate the difference between poetry and narrative. They can engage in discussion and a range of creative activities in giving expression to their growing understanding. They can begin to develop an appreciation of the ways in which the Bible may be able to help in their lives.


1. demonstrate an understanding of the Bible as the story of God’s people from creation onwards

2. respond to biblical stories and contrast with personal real life experiences

3. understand and explain why Jesus used parables as a means of teaching

4. distinguish between different levels of meaning in a parable, such as being seen as a simple story of the time or an instructional story for the reader with deeper meaning

5. describe God’s love for people as demonstrated in the stories of the Bible

6. interpret and retell stories demonstrating God’s relationship with his people in times of difficulty and hardship

7. identify and represent key biblical events on a timeline

8. use index, book title, chapter and verse numbers to locate events in the Bible.





Students understand that the bible contains books of different genres and can apply this understanding when investigating and making meaning from the text. Students investigate and understand the historical contexts of the bible and its main characters.


Students in this age group develop a basic understanding of the sub-divisions of the Bible: the Law [Pentateuch], the history of Israel and Judah, the Psalms, the wisdom literature, Apocalyptic, the Prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles. They are able to identify significant biblical figures associated with these various forms of literature. They undertake a more detailed study of an example of some of these forms of literature, for example, a psalm, a prophetic book such as Hosea, and a Gospel such as Luke. They gain a deeper understanding of ways in which contextual factors and the purposes of the author affect our interpretation of particular passages. Students are able to use the bible with greater facility, accurately reference events in the text and identify linkages between recurring images and concepts in the Old Testament and New Testament. Students also develop a greater appreciation of the ways in which the biblical material may be relevant to their lives and the issues they face.


1. identify, classify and explain the nature and role of the commandments

2. demonstrate an understanding that the Bible, although one book, is a collection of different books

3. accurately reference the Bible by using index, book title, chapter and verse numbers to locate events in the text

4. contrast links between one’s own life and the lives of biblical characters

5. identify major themes which run through the Bible

6. research the origins and history of the Bible

7. examine the nature of metaphoric and symbolic language in Scripture.

8. identify some of the major types of literary genre in the Bible and indicate how the genre contributes to interpretation and understanding

9. explain how context can impact on interpretation and understanding of text





Students understand that the bible and its teachings can influence people’s viewpoints and how they live their lives. They investigate its central themes and are able to articulate its influence on their perspectives and belief.


Students in this age group continue to study Scripture and develop a deeper understanding of hermeneutical issues [issues of interpretation]. They are able to reflect on the significance of biblical themes, images and ideas for issues in their personal lives and relationships with others and for issues in our contemporary world. Students identify those biblical ideas which have influenced areas of social life such as the law, politics and community values and assess their significance. They have a deeper understanding of the range of genres, writers and eras in the Bible and are aware of the processes and circumstances which led to the present collection of books in the Bible including the Apocrypha.


1. identify and integrate the main themes of human disobedience, salvation and fulfilment of God’s promise and purpose to the stories in the Bible

2. demonstrate the ability to use skills of interpretation and consider their function when studying the Bible

3. explain the function of metaphoric and symbolic language in Scripture

4. compare the story of God’s people in the Bible and God’s people now

5. explore how Scripture can influence ethical decision making

6. identify and explain the relationship between the Bible and social, political and legal viewpoints (including racism, human rights, relationships, land, war, prejudice, reconciliation, refugees, exclusion, etc)

7. identify a range of writers, eras and genres in the Bible and discuss the implications for interpretation and application


cluster units

See CD file

sample units

See CD file


Christian/Religious Studies includes aspects which are private and


Though we may be trying to create a faith community in the school,

and we may require students to be present at times of prayer and

worship, we cannot require students to believe, to pray or to worship.

By their very nature, these are voluntary activities. Therefore, there are

some ‘aims’ which are not, strictly speaking, measurable. They are

phrased and to be perceived as ‘Experiences and Opportunities’ for

students during their educational journey, in order that they may

choose to engage and be active learners

Anglican Schools Commission

Christian Religious Studies Progress Map


Different schools will have developed different

methods of assessment

Methods of assessment would be the same as any

other Learning Area i.e. tests, essays, oral

presentations, portfolios of work…etc


The language used by a CRS teacher

Phrases such as “Many Christians believe…” and “As a Christian I believe…” are important as they reinforce to students the respectful and academic nature of the program and that the teacher is not making the assumption that the students necessarily believe what he or she may believe

Furthermore, when questioning students it is helpful to sometimes ask “What might some people think…?” rather than “What do you think…?” as this can allow students to share their own beliefs without fear of ridicule

OUTCOME:Demonstrates understanding of how non- violent resistance can be used to fight injustice


Your task is to create a profile of Gandhi that explains

how he famously used non-violence to fight injustice. You

should focus on the following areas:

  • Who was Gandhi and why was he so motivated to help other humans?
  • In what ways was British colonial rule in India unjust?
  • How did Gandhi resist the British in India?
  • What are the strengths of using non-violent resistance to fight injustice?

It is up to you how you design your profile. Be creative!


To help you with this assessment you should use

the following web links:

Click here to read the story of Gandhi

Click here for pictures of Gandhi

Click here for key events in Gandhi’s life listed by date

Click here for detailed information on the following

topics (use the index on the left)

  • Non-violent resistance to injustice
  • All humans are equal
  • Civil disobedience

Level 5:Detailed profile of Gandhi /Cites examples of

colonial Mistreatment / Reference to his use of non-violent

Resistance / Evaluates strengths of using non-violent resistance

Level 4:Detailed profile of Gandhi / Cites examples of colonial

mistreatment / Reference to his use of non-violent resistance

Level 3:Basic profile of Gandhi / Some reference to his use of


Level 2:Basic profile of Gandhi

Not Demonstrated:No response

resources see crs progress map
ResourcesSee CRS Progress Map