Special Religious Education (SRE), also known as 'School Scripture', is for all religious persuasions, not just Christian.
SRE is offered in most NSW government schools and the vast majority of students across NSW attend some form of Special Religious Education.
SRE is governed by the NSW Education Act (1990), and conforms with all relevant policies set by the NSW Department of Education (DoE). No DoE policies are suspended during SRE.
Under the Act, SRE is defined as:
education in the distinctive beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion.
This means that SRE is intended to be religious education taught from a faith-perspective so that students have the opportunity to learn, discuss and explore how their beliefs can shape the way they live.
Curriculum used in SRE is authorised by approved religious providers, who work closely with the NSW Department of Education to ensure it is age-appropriate and suitable for the context. Teachers of SRE are authorised representatives of that religion, and receive training and resources to teach students whose parents have expressed the desire, usually at enrolment, that they receive this teaching.
Christian SRE isn’t just for families with an active faith commitment. There are families who may not want their children to go to church but are glad of the opportunity for them to be taught the basics of Christian faith from the Bible at school.
SRE also serves the interests of families whose beliefs do not stem from a Christian perspective, but from a different religious system, such as Islam, Buddhism or Judaism. In our multi-faith society, it is one of the strengths of the NSW system of Special Religious Education that a variety of approved religious groups are permitted to provide faith-based instruction to students whose parents choose for them to attend.
SRE is different to General Religious Education (GRE), which involves learning about the world’s major religions, the place of religion in society and the importance of religious beliefs for particular individuals and communities. Schools provide General Religious Education in the key learning area of Human Society & Its Environment (HSIE) through the Board of Studies syllabuses.
Parents are afforded the opportunity to withdraw their child from SRE and/or GRE if they wish.
We would often talk about (our religious beliefs) with friends from different groups. We would be challenged to consider what is being told in "places of worship" versus our actual encounters of what it means to believe particular things in our schools and in our community ... thus the designated SRE time taught both intrinsic motivation to learn about yourself, and gave voice to students who would want to question the theologies they have grown up with.Matthew