Frequently Asked Questions

Christian SRE teachers are committed members of their local Christian church – able to confirm their belief in Christian teachings and attending a weekly church service. They are people who care for children and are able to teach and connect with them at their developmental level. If you believe that you fit these requirements and would like to be an SRE teacher you need to approach your local Church Minister and ask them for approval. You will be required to complete child protection training, a Working With Children Check and accreditation training before entering a classroom. For more information on becoming an SRE teacher, please click here.

Yes. Ethics addresses questions such as good and evil, right and wrong, and concepts of justice. As children grow they are developing a framework through which they answer these questions.  In Christian SRE, children are taught the Christian framework through which they can explore these questions.  The method for teaching ethics changes with the child’s development. They begin by learning through stories, song and concrete examples. At this stage the main focus is ‘what should I do?” As children move to upper primary there is opportunity for discussion and questioning and a broader application of the Christian framework, where the focus broadens from ‘what should I do?’ to ‘why?’

You should contact the school to obtain the name and method of contacting the SRE Coordinator of the relevant religion. The SRE Coordinator will be able to put you in touch with your child’s SRE teacher.

Schools have a responsibility to provide SRE options for approved religions where parents specifically request it and there are authorised teachers to deliver it. If an SRE option is unavailable, parents can nominate an alternative persuasion for their child to attend. Some schools offer combined SRE classes eg. Protestant or Christian SRE. Parents are entitled to discuss the teaching program with SRE providers at any time. 

No, the course of Philosophical Ethics being delivered by Primary Ethics does not teach any specific framework of morality or belief.  Instead, facilitators help the students explore the ethical realm and make their own moral judgements on issues. 

No, Special Education in Ethics is to be run at the same time as SRE.

No, according to Department of Education procedures for implementing SRE, schools are expected to arrange SRE classes using the information given at enrolment.  This option continues unless a written note of withdrawal from SRE is received from parents. Contrary to these guidelines, some schools require parents to opt-in at the beginning of every year, creating an unnecessary administrative burden and a bigger pool of students in non-Scripture, often by default.

Choice is important for children. However, parents know that as children develop, the best way for them to learn to make good choices is to provide them with a framework for doing so.  For example, in offering this choice, “you can have an apple or an orange for recess”, the goal is that, in time, the child will recognise for themself the importance of eating a healthy recess.

By choosing one SRE option you will allow your child to gain a good understanding of that particular framework. This in turn will enable them when they are older to analyse it for themselves and make their own decision about what they believe.  The NSW education system provides General Religious Education to all students which allows all children to gain a general understanding of the world's major religions.

No. Christian SRE teachers are required to teach from an approved curriculum with a faith perspective, and students are encouraged to ask questions, interact and think about their own response to God and his son Jesus. It is important to respect the integrity of the student and not presume that all students are believers. This means that students should not be forced to make statements they do not believe, to pray if they prefer not to, or to join in songs that speak of commitment if they do not share that commitment. Respect for their integrity means that non-participation is always an option for the student.

No. Many parents who are not religious themselves are happy for their children to be taught the basics of the Christian faith from the Bible at school. SRE is also available for other approved religious persuasions.

It is not true that all religions are the same as each other. In fact they differ substantially on basic beliefs and outcomes. The challenge for each of us is to investigate them, decide which has the best grounds for truth, and makes the most sense of life, then make a choice. This is a very important matter because the decisions we make have implications for how we view ourselves, how we conduct ourselves in relation to others, our sense of hope and assurance, and our future – both in this life and after death. For more information on what Christians believe click here.

Your child will continue in the SRE classes you nominated at enrolment unless you choose to remove them. A letter indicating your decision to opt-out of SRE must be given to the school for your child to be withdrawn. The school is required to notify parents/caregivers of the options available each year for Special Religious Education, Special Education in Ethics, and non-scripture.

In Christian SRE, children are introduced to the truths of the Bible through age-appropriate use of music, drama, video, reading and writing, puzzle solving, drawing, and discussion.  Students are encouraged to explore the deeper questions of the nature of mankind, the character of God and our relationship with God as well as the moral implications of how we should live.

If you do not want your child to participate in any form of Special Religious Education, you can opt for your child to attend non-Scripture or Special Education in Ethics, if offered. It is the school’s responsibility to appropriately care for students not attending SRE.  This may include private study or independent reading, but not timetabled lessons or scheduled school activities which would cause conflict for parents.

To provide Special Religious Education, a religious persuasion must meet Department of Education requirements and be approved by the Minister for Education. Currently, approved religious providers include Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist and various Christian denominations. The teachers are authorised and trained volunteers or religious practitioners. SRE teachers must undergo Child Protection training, complete a Working With Children Check, and sign a declaration that they are not a person prohibited from undertaking child-related employment.

Under the NSW Education Act (1990), the length of SRE lessons is required to be between a minimum of 30 minutes and up to a maximum of 60 minutes of meaningful teaching time per school week. In general, most primary schools have a weekly allocation of 30 minutes per week. Arrangements for the times for SRE are negotiable and to be fixed by agreement between the principal of the school and the authorised religious persuasions which will provide the teachers. SRE must be timetabled so that students may participate without conflict with other lessons (except Special Education in Ethics) and scheduled school activities such as assemblies or sport.

NSW Education recognises the importance of faith education and therefore gives parents the opportunity to give written permission through its school enrolment form.  The school is responsible for allocating students into appropriate classes for SRE, based on the information given at enrolment or at a subsequent time. Department of Education policy contains the expectation that a child will continue in SRE unless the parent notifies the school in writing of their intention to withdraw their child from SRE. The school is required to inform parents of the organisation of SRE and any changes made to SRE throughout the year.

The NSW Department of Education requires all SRE providers to detail their complaints procedures which includes resolution within a reasonable timeframe. View the SRE Complaints Handling Policy of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.