Did you know that in NSW ACT Synod we have over 260 people teaching scripture every week from the Uniting Church. If everyone of them only taught 1 class of 25 children they have shared the good news of Jesus with 6,500 children EVERY WEEK!!!! We know that some of these teachers teach many more than this..
Partnering for Special Religious Education
Special Religious Education (SRE) is the program as part of NSW Government Schools for children to learn in their religious tradition and aims to nurture the spiritual wellbeing of students. The place of faith and spirituality places an important role in supporting mental health and growing school communities. It is an essential ministry, particularly considering for many children this is the only place they are learning about the faith.
SRE is taught by trained representatives, often from several religions, recognising the diversity of the school community. The NSW Department of Education overseas the SRE program and those teaching SRE must by trained and authorised by an Approved Provider of SRE of which the Uniting Church is one.
Parents or Guardians are required to give permission for their children to attend the Special Religious Education Classes, usually via the school enrolment form or a notice sent to parents/guardians to indicate which SRE classes they would like their children to attend. Parents often value the Uniting Churches respect for diversity. It is a ministry of the Church which has gone underappreciated in its importance and value.
You could be a part of this! So read on to find out more!
Preparing to be an SRE Representative
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 vision.
SRE teachers must be recommended by their minister or Church Council, participate in Child Protection/Safe Church Training and SRE Teacher Basic training modules and ongoing training.
You can provide evidence that you have prior learning which fits the competencies (skills and knowledge) of the basic training certificate to apply for credit for some modules. Those SRE volunteers who are trained school teachers or Ministers/Pastors will also need to complete an SRE basic training certificate and ongoing development training.
What’s expected of me as an SRE teacher?
Along with the expectations of those we partner with, we need to examine our own expectations to make sure that they are realistic! As a foundation, the expectations for an SRE teacher are:
- Commitment to the task that God has given you.
- A loving attitude towards all the children that you teach, and an understanding and acceptance of their family background, no matter how different it may be to yours.
- Preparation of each lesson, following the approved curriculum.
- Punctuality at school for your lessons to ensure the handover between classes is smooth.
- Attendance at relevant accreditation and enrichment training and in-service courses. The best teachers are those who are always ready to learn.
- A prayerful approach towards the lessons to be presented and for the children in your class.
SRE Teacher Application for Authorisation Steps
You can begin to apply for SRE Authorisation at any time, but you will need to have completed your requirements including training before you can be authorised to go into Schools to teach SRE. As such its best to apply as early as possible, not wait until the beginning of the school year you wish to teach in.
- Obtain support from the Minister or other authorising agent for your local Church Council.
- Obtain Working with Children Check (WWCC) Clearance number. Applications online: www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au
- Attend an SCTA Endorsed Safe Church Workshop Training calendars online
- Participate in SRE training. Individuals with prior learning relevant to SRE teaching can provide evidence of this to apply for Recognition of their Prior Learning. More information
- Local Church Authorising Agent to complete the SRE Local Church Support Form
- Complete and sign a Uniting Church SRE Application for Engagement Form
- Email both forms and supporting certificates to email@example.com
- Completed forms are reviewed by Uniting Church Secretariat. If requirements are met an SRE Authorisation card is issued, which is valid up to 3 years. If requirements are not met, an interim card will be issued valid for 6 months (Safe Church and Modules 1, 6 and 7 must be completed)
- Local authorising agent to send a letter to the school/s where you intend to teach SRE, advising them of your authorisation. This SRE authorisation confirmation letter MUST use the supplied template available from the website. Form to be sent directly to the school copied to firstname.lastname@example.org
- SRE authorisation card and Uniting Church name badge (or a School issued badge) to be displayed when at school for SRE to show you have authorisation from an approved provider of SRE.
Synod Safe Church Unit, | Secretariat Executive Assistant
Phone: 02 8267 4325 Email: email@example.com
Rev Tara Curlewis
Synod Safe Church Unit, | Safe Church Relationships Minister
Phone: 02 8267 4351 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.