What is a Catechist or Scripture teachers?

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 and Communities. The Catholic Church is an approved provider and the curriculum outlines are publicly available.

What is SRE?

Special Religious Education 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.

The Catholic Church sees the education of Catholic children in the Faith as integral and key to its mission. The NSW Department of Education and Communities describes SRE “is 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.”

How do I get my working with children check?

You can apply for a Working with Children Check here. Once you have an application number, you must take it to your local RMS with your proof of identity. Once your identity is confirmed, you can expect your WWCC number in up to four weeks.

I have a WWCC. What now?

You must then give your Parish Priest/Secretary your WWCC so that you can officially be verified as an employee of the parish. The clearance is not enough – verification is essential.

What is the green card? Other SRE teachers from other denominations don’t have one. Why do I?

A green card is your authorisation from the Parish Priest, this verifies you as a representative of the Parish in the state schools. It is mandatory to wear your green card while on school grounds, because it identifies you as as an authorised catechist of a particular parish.

Do I have to attend the courses?

The DOE requires that all SRE volunteers receive initial and ongoing training. Level 1.1 Basic Training must be completed before entering the classroom. CCD encourages all catechists to continue their training development in the courses provided.

What if I just want to become a helper?

Both catechists and helpers are required to undertake the Level 1.1 (The Role of SRE and Safeguarding) training as a minimum in line with DOE requirements.

I would like to observe a lesson before I commit to Catholic SRE. Is this possible?

We encourage our potential catechists to sit in on a class in order to determine if this is a suitable role. You do not need a WWCC if you are sitting in on one lesson as a visitor, but you must sign in as a visitor at school reception and be accompanied by a Catechist at all times.

Do I have to use Christ our Light and Life? What if I find something else I want to teach from?

In order to meet the annual DET compliance, Catholic SRE teachers must teach from an approved curriculum. In the Archdiocese of Sydney, Christ our Light and Life is the approved curriculum.

I belong to an Eastern Rite parish. Can I still become a catechist?

The Eastern Catholic Rite forms an arm of the Catholic Church, and while Eastern Catholic parishes are not approved providers of SRE, members of these parishes are welcome to visit their local Roman Rite parish to enquire about volunteering with their catechists as SRE teachers.

What is the High School Catechist Program?

Catholic High Schools encourage their students to undertake social justice activities as part of their learning. The High School Catechist Program enables students with an aptitude for teaching and mission to assist or teach SRE classes at their local public school under the supervision of an established catechist or classroom teacher, working in pairs.

What is a Code of Conduct?

The CCD Code of Conduct is a document that contains guidelines of professional standards for Catholic SRE teachers and assistants. The Code of Conduct forms a compulsory part of the Level 1 Training.

What happens if someone breaches the code?

The CCD follows all the regulations set out in Child Protection Legislation (2013) when someone breaches the code. Catechists must liaise with their school principal, FEO, Coordinator and Parish Priest regarding any issues of conduct.

Do you provide any free classroom resources?

The CCD aims to enhance the skills of its catechists and helpers, and provides ongoing training and professional development (including biannual catechist gatherings) to its SRE teachers. In addition to our accreditation, we offer free Smartboard Training, and distribute additional materials (CDs, posters, seasonal teaching kits and promotional resources) when they are available. If you would like to purchase picture books and CDs, the Sydney Catholic Books and Resources store provides items at competitive prices.

I would like to use an electronic board in my classroom, but there’s a password?

Please speak to your classroom teacher in advance to obtain access to the Smartboard prior to your lesson.

How can I obtain COLAL on a USB to use on a Smartboard?

Following your successful completion of the Smartboard Course, you will have the opportunity to install COLAL on your USB. If you do not have a USB, you may purchase one for a small fee from CCD. Please note that the electronic COLAL program is not a substitute for the books, rather it is designed to complement the existing lessons.

I would like to interact with other catechists. What events am I able to attend? How do I find out about them?

Each area in the Archdiocese of Sydney hosts an Area Mass once a year which enables catechists to gather, give thanks and share a meal with one another. Our annual Archdiocesan Mass, acknowledges the work of all catechists and is held in September. In addition, there are free events, courses and workshops around the Archdiocese throughout the year. Details of these can be found in our newsletter, Our Parish Catechists, which is distributed four times a year, and via our electronic newsletter, which is sent via email to catechists on our database.