Special Religious Education (SRE) is the time set aside in Government Schools for Catechists (also called Scripture Teachers) from the local Catholic Church to teach Catholic children about Jesus and his message of salvation. SRE is mandated by the Education Act (1990) and gives parents the choice to have children formed in the faith of their family.
WHY IS SRE TAUGHT?
The Catholic Church sees the education of Catholic children in the Faith as integral and key to its mission. The NSW Department of Education (DOE) describes SRE “as an integral part of school activities.” SRE can be seen then, as part of “a well-rounded education that values and supports the intellectual, creative, physical, social and emotional development of each child.”
WHO ARE CATECHISTS?
Catechists (Scripture teachers) are volunteers who are approved, authorised, and trained by the local parish and Dioceses of the Catholic Church. SRE can only be provided by a religious group approved by the Department of Education. The Catholic Church is an approved provider and the curriculum outlines are publicly available.
WHAT IS TAUGHT?
Catholic SRE teaching programs are approved by the Bishop of the Diocese in liaison with educational experts, for use by Scripture Teachers. Programs contain suitable lessons for children from Kindergarten to Year 6 and there are a variety of programs for Secondary Schools students as well. For more information about the program used in your child’s school, please see your local Parish SRE Coordinator or your Parish Priest.
HOW CAN YOUR CHILD ATTEND SRE?
Catholic children are always welcome to attend Catholic SRE classes at their school. Usually parents would nominate what religious denomination they wish their child to attend when completing the school enrolment form. Parents also have the right to change the SRE class their child attends at any time or even withdraw them from SRE. This can be done by notifying the principal of your child’s school.
SOME GREAT BENEFITS OF SRE IN SCHOOLING
A Positive Message
We begin with the understanding that we were created by a loving God who calls us to fullness of life. In a culture which often focuses on the negative aspects of life, Catholic SRE is a breath of fresh air, where students are encouraged to see themselves as God sees them – inherently good, full of potential and capable of being a force for good in our world.
The Morals and Values of Jesus
Encouraging children and young people to develop a relationship with Jesus is a key part of Catholic SRE. The curriculums used by Catholic SRE teachers aim to help children and young people make moral choices that are life-giving for themselves and others. Through the exploration of the teachings of Jesus and the stories in the Christian Scriptures, and by encouraging students to pray, Catholic SRE aims to provide children and young people with a framework to help them make choices that recognise the value and importance of our relationship with God, others and our world.
A Pathway for Catholic Sacraments
Children attending Catholic SRE classes receive lessons that give them background preparation for the Sacraments that may be available to their age group. Catholic SRE teachers liaise with the local Catholic Parishes to ensure that students and their families are aware of the Sacramental programs being offered locally.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Do you have any questions about Catholic SRE and how lessons are organised in your child’s school? Or perhaps you would like to meet or speak to a Catholic SRE teacher? Please do not hesitate to contact your local Catholic SRE Coordinator or your local Church Parish office.