Religion has always played a valued part in the education provided by NSW government schools. The NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880 set down the pattern of teaching that exists to this day, based on a dual system of secular instruction (which includes general religious education) and special religious education.
Public schools exist to support parents in the education and development of their children. As a society, we want an education system that does more than just equip children academically. We’ve recognised that things like music, drama, or sport (and a whole variety of other things) are valuable in helping young people develop into mature, society-contributing adults. Religious education fits into this category, possessing educational and cultural value that contributes to the holistic development of our children.
NSW is a diverse, multicultural community and SRE reflects that diversity. It doesn’t trivialise religion or different beliefs. Instead, it celebrates diversity and gives students the opportunity to understand and explore the world from a genuine faith perspective.
The times for SRE lessons are to be fixed by negotiation between the principal of the school and the approved religious providers who will run the program. Lessons must be at least 30 minutes per week, with a maximum of one hour per week.
As an infant at primary school I regularly attended SRE classes and was genuinely moved by the transparency, honesty, sincerity, gentleness and kindness of one teacher in particular. When in year 9 I dropped out of SRE and was horribly disobedient and nasty to my SRE teacher, although my teacher was patient and gentle toward me. Several years later, after experiencing such things as an eating disorder, Chronic Fatigue and Depression ... led me to have a greater optimism, hope and peace, when I reflected on my experiences in SRE and chose to be a Christian.Emma