SRE, from the Christian perspective, is the opportunity the churches have to share the gospel with the children in government schools. Other religious faiths may also enter schools to teach their children.
Parents are required to give permission, or not, for their children to attend the Special Religious Education Classes.
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.” (Implementing Special Religious Education – GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS, PROVIDERS OF SRE AND PARENTS. NSW Department of School Education. 1995)
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 mission and 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, and:
A person may volunteer to become an SRE teacher on behalf of their congregation. 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 to ensure the children in schools can receive quality SRE and volunteer teachers are adequately prepared and supported in their roles.
Every SRE teacher and helper must be appropriately authorised to enter any government school. Authorisation includes: participating in SCTA Safe Church Awareness Training, completing an SRE teacher engagement form and committing to training and development as an SRE teacher (see links provided above).
SRE section of the Children’s Ministry website (for NSW SRE teachers)
CRE section of the Children’s Ministry website (for ACT CRE teachers)