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NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre. Implementing SRE classes in NSW public schools. Presenter’s name, Presenter’s title. Legislation – Education Act 1990. 32 Special religious education

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nsw curriculum and learning innovation centre

NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre

Implementing SRE classes in NSW public schools

Presenter’s name, Presenter’s title

legislation education act 1990
Legislation – Education Act 1990

32 Special religious education

(1) In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious 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.

(2)  The religious education to be given to children of any religious persuasion is to be given by a member of the clergy or other religious teacher of that persuasion authorised by the religious body to which the member of the clergy or other religious teacher belongs.

(3)  The religious education to be given is in every case to be the religious education authorised by the religious body to which the member of the clergy or other religious teacher belongs.

legislation education act 19903
Legislation – Education Act 1990

(4)  The times at which religious education is to be given to children of a particular religious persuasion are to be fixed by agreement between the principal of the school and the local member of the clergy or other religious teacher of that persuasion.

(5)  Children attending a religious education class are to be separated from other children at the school while the class is held.

(6)  If the relevant member of the clergy or other religious teacher fails to attend the school at the appointed time, the children are to be appropriately cared for at the school during the period set aside for religious education.

33Objection to religious education

No child at a government school is to be required to receive any general religious education or special religious education if the parent of the child objects to the child’s receiving that education.

legislative change
Legislative change
  • The Education Act 1990 was amended in November 2010 to allow schools to offer classes in ethics for students who have been granted exemption from attending special religious education i.e. at the time when special religious education classes are being provided
  • Students are exempted from special religious education if:
    • no religion or no recognised religion is stated on their school enrolment form
    • a parent writes to the principal to request exemption from scripture
    • the religion identified on the enrolment form does not have a corresponding SRE class
    • Whilst a bill was introduced to the NSW Parliament in September 2011 to repeal this amendment it has not been passed.
what does this mean for sre
What does this mean for SRE?
  • SRE will continue as it has been.
  • Students who have identified a religion on their enrolment form will be placed in an SRE class for that faith/denomination, as previously done.
  • If SRE classes are not available for that faith/denomination, then the student is placed in a non-SRE option.

The only difference is that for students who are attending a non-SRE option, they may attend an ethics class, if it is offered in the school, and if their parents approve.

sre approved providers
SRE approved providers
  • Religious persuasions must be approved by the Director-General before they can undertake SRE classes in NSW public schools.
  • Approved providers are responsible for appointing and training their volunteer teachers as well as choosing the curriculum to be taught.
  • Every approved religious persuasion must provide, annually to the Department, a written assurance that they have procedures in place to ensure compliance with child protection requirements. If this does not occur the provider loses their approval.
  • All approved providers are listed on the DEC website at: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/policies/religion/providers/index.htm
establishing sre classes
Establishing SRE classes

Allocation to classes

  • Students are automatically placed in SRE and non-SRE classes based on information provided on the enrolment form.
  • This arrangement should continue from year to year.

Exemptions for SRE

  • A record must be kept of all certificates of exemption or letters requesting exemption from SRE. These override the information provided on enrolment.
  • These exemptions carry over from year to year and parents should not be required to resubmit these.
establishing sre classes8
Establishing SRE classes

Communication with providers

  • Approved providers should be alerted to numbers for SRE classes for the following year in early Term 4.
  • Similarly at that time, the principal should be provided with an up-to-date list of authorised SRE teachers from approved providers.

Communication with parents

  • Parents are to be advised of the organisation of SRE on enrolment and annually before the end of the school year
key points
Key Points
  • SRE occurs as it has always occurred, providing SRE to students who identify with a particular religious persuasion.
  • The choice for a parent to exempt their child from SRE still applies.
  • Students who are attending non-SRE options, may attend ethics classes if they are in Year 5 or 6 and there is a trained ethics coordinator at the school, there are trained volunteers and sufficient students to establish a class.
  • Early in Term 4 it is important to do initial preparations for SRE classes in the following year, including meeting with approved providers and providing student numbers.