SRE in Schools
Special Religious Education (SRE) is the opportunity for local churches to nominate representatives (SRE teachers) to go into their local state school and teach about their distinctive beliefs and practices. All students are welcome to attend SRE classes.
Watch this video from ChristianSRE to get an overview on what SRE is all about.
In NSW there is legislative privilege to teach children the Bible in public schools. This was legislated in 1880 as the result of a developing cooperative approach to education and religious instruction between the NSW government and Protestant churches. This gave the government ownership and control of schools and churches access to the children of their denomination for an hour a day of religious instruction.
In 1990, the Public Instruction Act (1880) was amended and became the NSW Education Act. This legislation was revised in response to the Rawlinson Report, Religion in Education in NSW Government Schools (1980) and approved religious groups, of any religious affiliation, have maintained the right to have religious instruction in public schools for up to an hour a week. As part of the legislation parents have the right to opt their children out of SRE if they so wish. Teachers supervise the students who do not attend SRE, but students may not engage in curriculum activities that would disadvantage their peers who are receiving SRE.
Definition of Special Religious Education (SRE)
Special Religious Education (SRE) is defined as education in the distinctive religious tenets and beliefs of the home and family, provided by the churches and other religious groups for parents expressing the desire that they receive such teaching. SRE should provide opportunities for learners:
to develop an ability to interpret religious data within the traditions of their particular faith;
to gain an appreciation of specific religious interpretations of issues and problems in which committed people apply their faith to life;
to translate their learning about their faith into active expression in a worshipping community;
to encounter, in a peer group-learning context, religious teaching given from a position of faith and commitment by a person explicitly associated with the religious community;
to be aware of the availability of personal and group counselling in the area of religious need, as occasion demands.
(From Religion in Education in NSW Government Schools (1980), Section 6.57 & 6.58.)