1. How is the membership of ICCOREIS determined?
Any Christian religious persuasion that is approved by the NSW Department of Education and Communities to provide Special Religious Education (SRE) in government schools can apply for membership of ICCOREIS. The application must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the representative members.
The number of representatives from each member organisation reflects the relative composition of Christian children in NSW government schools. This will be revised every ten years, using Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. For the current membership, see the ICCOREIS Constitution, which is included as Appendix A in the SRE Handbook
2. What is ICCOREIS’ theological position?
ICCOREIS’ policy is that its members are not in competition – they work together. As stated in the Constitution, in order to be accepted as a member, a religious persuasion must provide evidence that its beliefs are consonant with the tenets of the Apostles Creed.
3. When does ICCOREIS meet?
ICCOREIS meets as both Commission and Board about eight times per year, on the first Tuesday of the month during school terms. For this year’s meeting dates, see the Events page.
4. How does ICCOREIS have input into government policy?
ICCOREIS is represented on the Department of Education’s Consultative Committee on Special Religious Education. Members of this committee include representatives of the NSW Department of Education, the Anglican Church, the Baptist Union, the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Uniting Church, the Greek Orthodox church, the Jewish Board of Deputies, the Islamic Council, representatives from the Baha’i, Hindu and Buddhist faiths, Parents & Citizens Association and the NSW Teachers Federation. The Consultative Committee’s task is to provide the Director-General with information and advice on the implementation and operation of SRE, and to act as a clearing house for new ideas and innovations.
5. Is there a relationship between ICCOREIS and SRE providers from other faiths?
Representatives of ICCOREIS and SRE providers from other faiths are members of the Department of Education’s Consultative Committee on Special Religious Education and jointly consider matters pertaining to SRE.
Definition and Objectives of SRE
1. What is Special Religious Education?
Special Religious Education (SRE) is defined as: education in the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion by authorised representatives of that persuasion.
2. What are the objectives of SRE?
SRE should provide opportunities for learners:
a) to develop an ability to interpret religious data within the traditions of their particular faith;
b) to gain an appreciation of specific religious interpretations of issues and problems in which committed people apply their faith to life;
c) to translate their learning about their faith into active expression in a worshipping community;
d) 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;
e) to be aware of the availability of personal and group counselling in the area of religious need, as occasion demands.
Source: Religion in Education in NSW Government Schools (1980, 6.58)
Government Requirements for SRE
1. What is an approved provider of SRE?
An approved provider is a religious persuasion that has been approved by the NSW Department of Education and Communities to provide Special Religious Education in government schools. A list of approved providers can be found on the departments website. For further information, including the criteria used to determine whether a religious persuasion should be granted approval, see Chapter 2 of the SRE Handbook.
2. What are the child protection requirements?
The NSW Department of Education and Communities requires the SRE teacher to complete a statutory declaration stating that he/she has never been convicted of:
- an act of violence
- any offence against a minor
- sexual assault
- provision of prohibited drugs.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian requires the SRE teacher to complete a Working with Children Check. All SRE teachers, whether volunteers or paid employees must obtain a Working With Children Number. Details of the Working with Children Check and other relevant information can be found on website of the Office of the Children’s Guardian.
3. What are the SRE teacher’s responsibilities in cases of actual or suspected child abuse?
Under NSW legislation voluntary SRE teachers are not mandatory reporters of child abuse. However, if the SRE teacher is concerned about a child, he/she should discuss this confidentially with the school principal. Paid SRE teachers are mandatory reporters of child abuse, so they must report their concerns to the principal.
1. What are the insurance responsibilities of the authorising agent of SRE teachers?
Once authorised a voluntary SRE teacher is covered by the authorising agent¹s public liability insurance.
An SRE teacher who is employed through a combined churches high school SRE board while authorised by their SRE provider is insured through their employer. High school SRE boards that also help coordinate volunteer SRE teachers on behalf of local providers do not insure the volunteers as these are already covered by their own individual authorising provider’s insurance.
Negotiating and Timetabling for SRE
1. Who is responsible for negotiating the timetabling and structure of SRE in a school?
Timetabling and structure of SRE in a school is negotiated between SRE providers and the school principal. It is important that SRE providers cooperate with one another in negotiating with the school, to ensure the arrangements made are suitable for all concerned. A church SRE coordinator may be appointed to represent one or more of the churches involved.
2. When should discussion about timetabling take place?
Discussions regarding timetabling, especially if there are changes proposed, should begin in Term 3, before the timetable for the new year has been developed.
3. What guidelines are available for the negotiation of SRE with schools?
The SRE Handbook provides guidelines for negotiations. Chapter 3 discusses the role of the church; Chapter 5 discusses the role of the church SRE coordinator; Appendix C contains the ICCOREIS Policy for Cooperative Religious Education (SRE) in Schools (NSW) and Code of Practice, as well as relevant sections of Religion in Education in NSW Government Schools (1980).
Reponsibilities of the School
1. Who decides what SRE will be provided in a school?
Where possible, SRE is provided in response to parental requests, as indicated on the school’s enrolment form. The school is responsible for supplying this information to the relevant approved SRE providers in its area, and those that can provide teachers will do so.
2. Does the school have any influence on the curriculum for SRE?
No, the curriculum is determined by the authorising agent(s).
3. What process should the school follow if a parent contacts it with SRE concerns?
Contact the SRE Coordinator or relevant authorising agent for follow-up.
4. Can a school allow an SRE provider to offer SRE to all students under the banner of Personal Development or multi-faith religion?
5. Should the regular class teacher be present in the classroom during the SRE lesson?
The class teacher does not have to be present during SRE lessons, but this can vary from one school to another. It can be helpful to have the teacher present, for classroom management.
6. Does the regular class teacher have any responsibility for the class whilst an SRE lesson is in progress?
The SRE teacher is responsible for the class but they can ask for help from the class teacher.
7. What should the school do to assist SRE?
The school has an obligation to support and respect the work of SRE by providing the relevant resources (classrooms, equipment etc); following the Departmental guidelines; and liaising with SRE providers, both for the provision of classes and in the event of any problems.
8. Should the school give SRE teachers its yearly calendar of events?
Role of Parents
1. What rights do parents have in relation to SRE being offered at their child’s school?
On enrolment, parents are required to indicate which, if any, SRE class they would like their child to join. Parents have the right to withdraw their child from SRE if they feel it is inappropriate.
2. Who should a parent contact with concerns about SRE teaching or content?
The parent should contact the school SRE Coordinator or principal, who will liaise with the church SRE Coordinator.
School and Church SRE Coordinators
1. What is the role of the School SRE Coordinator?
The school SRE Coordinator (a teacher at the school) liaises with church SRE Coordinators, to enable the efficient organisation and running of SRE classes. The school SRE Coordinator provides information on classroom availability and class sizes, and is involved in negotiating timetables and keeping SRE teachers informed of any changes or school activities that will impact on SRE classes.
2. What is the role of the Church SRE Coordinator?
The Church SRE Coordinator may work on behalf of one or more churches in the local area. Their responsibilities include liaising with the school(s) and with other church coordinators to organise sufficient teachers for the classes required; recruiting and supervising SRE teachers; supporting the SRE teachers by providing information on authorisation, training and curriculum; and coordinating activities with the school(s), local churches and SRE teachers.
3. Does every denomination have an SRE coordinator?
Ideally every denomination should have a coordinator but in reality they do not.
4. What type of person would be suited to the role of Church SRE Coordinator?
The Church SRE Coordinator needs to be someone who believes in the importance of SRE, is a capable administrator and has a reasonable knowledge of the SRE guidelines. It would also be helpful for them to have practical experience of SRE teaching.
For further information, see Chapter 5 of the SRE Handbook.
SRE Employment Boards
1. What is an SRE Employment Board?
An SRE employment board is an organisation formed by representatives of a number of denominations, with the purpose of employing one or more SRE teachers to work in their local school(s).
2. Are there guidelines available for establishing an SRE employment board?
The ICCOREIS Guidelines for Joint-Denominational SRE Employment Boards provides information on establishing and running an SRE employment board. This document is available via the Resources page of this site.
3. How are the teachers authorised?
All denominations represented on the employment board must authorise the teacher(s) they employ.
4. What are the rights and responsibilities of the employed SRE teacher?
The employed SRE teacher’s main responsibility is the teaching of SRE in the school. They may also be involved in coordinating voluntary SRE teachers; organising and/or running special assemblies for Christmas, Easter or Education Week; and pastoral care of students. The employment board must support the teacher in this work, by providing adequate remuneration as well as pastoral support and guidance as required.
For further information, see the Guidelines for Joint-Denominational SRE Employment Boards.
1. What do I do if I want to become an SRE teacher?
The process will differ slightly between denominations, so the first step should be to contact your local denominational representative (or for help see the Members pages of this site). Further information can be found in the SRE Handbook. Some key aspects are covered by the following questions and answers.
2. What is the authorisation process for SRE teachers?
Every person who teaches SRE in a NSW government school must be authorised by an approved religious persuasion. This is usually begun at the local level, with the head of the local church authorising teachers for schools within the church boundaries. Most ICCOREIS member churches have an authorisation/engagement form that the teacher and the authorising agent must complete. The teacher is then issued with a card which they must carry when on the school grounds, as proof of their authorisation. For further details, see Chapter 3 of the SRE Handbook. For the requirements of specific denominations, see the SRE Authorisation page.
3. Who determines the curriculum to be taught?
The authorising agent is responsible for authorising both the curriculum and the teachers. If the class is a joint-denominational group(“combined arrangements”) , then all the churches represented must authorise the curriculum used.
4. What are the limits on evangelism in the classroom? Can the teacher call on students to commit themselves to Christ in the lesson?
The ICCOREIS Policy for Cooperative Special Religious Education (SRE) in Schools (NSW) and Code of Practice (Appendix C of the SRE Handbook), states “We avoid evangelistic appeals requiring a public response from students in SRE to maintain its genuinely educational nature.”
5. What should the SRE teacher do if a parent contacts them with concerns over SRE?
Seek advice from their Church SRE Coordinator or authorising agent.
6. Can SRE teachers participate in professional teacher days at the school?
Yes, employed SRE teachers should be encouraged to accept invitations to any staff training days organised by the school that are relevant to them.
1. Do SRE teachers need to be trained?
All approved providers are required to provide training in at least child protection issues and classroom management for their SRE teachers. ICCOREIS (NSW) has created a Basic SRE Training standard which has been agreed upon by all member churches as a minimum standard for all SRE teachers.
2. What kind of training is required?
The Basic Training Standard includes:
Module 1 – Teaching SRE in Government Schools
Module 2 – Learning and Teaching
Module 3 – Preparing and Delivering a Lesson
Module 4 – Classroom Management
Module 5 – Introduction to the Bible
Module 6 – Classroom Experience
3. Is Child Protection screening required?
Churches recognise and require Child Protection Training /Safe Ministry Training for their SRE teachers as well as the legal requirement to verify Working with Children Check Numbers for all SRE teachers. Many churches cooperate to provide this training through the Safe Church Training Agreement (SCTA). A calendar of child protection training events is available on-line.
4. How can I find out about training events?
Various member organisations and churches regularly hold teacher training events all around the state. Some churches employ dedicated trainers. ICCOREIS is kept informed of this training and communicates it to its members. See the Events and Training pages for training courses and more information.
1. What is accreditation?
Accreditation refers to the level of training that must be completed by an SRE teacher. Each religious persuasion/denomination is responsible for training and accrediting its own SRE teachers. The level and type of training required may vary, therefore, as this is determined by the individual denominations.
For general information and definitions, see Chapter 4 of the SRE Handbook.
For the requirements of specific denominations, see the SRE Training page.
Distribution of Christian Literature
1. What are the legal and ethical issues of distributing denominational-specific or viewpoint-specific literature to students under the banner of joint-denominational SRE?
The teacher can only distribute literature that has been authorised by every denomination involved, and only with the permission of the principal.
2. What responsibilities does an SRE teacher have in the handouts they provide their students?
The teacher and their authorising agent must take complete responsibility for all material they distribute.
3. What are the ethical considerations of one denominational or faith SRE teacher giving students information about another denomination or faith?
This can only be done if all denominations or faiths concerned are in agreement.
4. Can Christian material be distributed to all students in the school?
Communication and consultation with all denominations or faiths represented in the school is vital. If one denomination proposes the distribution of material to all students, every other SRE provider must be consulted and be in agreement. Permission must also be sought from the school principal and parents.
1. Where are the required forms?
Appendix B of the SRE Handbook contains samples of the following: SRE Teacher’s Engagement Form.
For your denomination’s version of this form, contact your denominational representative.
2. For the latest Working with Children Check forms and to get a WWCC number, see the website of the Office of the children’s Guardian .
3. Is there a list of guest speakers available for training programmes and in-service courses?
ICCOREIS has compiled a short list of guest speakers; names and details can be found on the Resources. page of this site. Further information should be available from the denominational representatives (see the Members pages), or the churches’ websites (see the Links page).
4. What resources are available for SRE teaching?
SRE Handbook – covers the rights and responsibilities of all concerned with SRE in NSW government schools;
Policy for Cooperative Special Religious Education (SRE) in Schools (NSW) and Code of Practice – included in Appendix C of the SRE Handbook;
Guidelines for Joint-Denominational SRE Employment Boards – guidelines for those who wish to establish a joint-denominational board to employ SRE teachers;
SRE Update – the Commission’s newsletter, produced three times per year;
Training DVDs – DVDs covering various aspects of teaching;
Recruitment video – information to assist in the recruiting process;
Materials from SRE teachers’ conferences.
The main curriculum publishers for NSW are Christian Education Publications (Connect), GodSpace, ACCESS Ministries, and the Catholic Church – Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
See the Members page for more information.
c) Denominational resources:
Each denomination has its own teachers’ manuals and other support materials.
d) NSW Government documents:
Religious Education Policy.
See the Policy page of the Department of Education and Training website.
Religion in Education in NSW Government Schools (1980) – extracts in Appendix C of the SRE Handbook;
Education Act 1990.
Contact the NSW Department of Education and Communities, www.det.nsw.edu.au