Every week some 12000 Christian Volunteers deliver SRE (Special Religious Education) to Schools across the state of NSW. Here in Tenterfield there are some five SRE volunteers that deliver lessons each week at The Sir Henry Parks Memorial Primary School and a community-funded part time SRE teacher at the Tenterfield High School.
As stated on the whysre.com.au website:
The NSW Department of Education recognises spiritual well-being plays an important role in successful learning. SRE will nurture your child's sense of meaning and purpose and promote positive connections with faith and community.
SRE can be invaluable in helping shape your child's values. Christian SRE offers a biblical world view that teaches traditional ethics and values, and fosters genuine tolerance towards those with a different faith heritage.
Christian SRE will help your child appreciate the impact of Christianity upon Western culture. Our legal system, literature, art, music, and even our language have all been influenced by Christianity. The idea of someone being a "Good Samaritan" only has meaning in the context of understanding its biblical heritage.
An independent report into SRE in NSW found SRE brings important psychological benefits to students' mental health and well-being. So it is surprising that this valuable input into young lives is being described as "antiquated" by the NSW Teachers Federation.
A recent interview on ABC Local Radio with a spokesman representing this view presented some misinformation.
Firstly that the volunteers were not trained - this is not the case as the Department of Education requires that all SRE providers have in place a system of initial and ongoing training in the areas of child protection and classroom management for SRE teachers.
Second that it is not known what is being taught. Again this is incorrect as the teachers use an approved curriculum approved by the Department of Education and which is available for all to view.
While there are some Principals opposed to SRE there are many more that support it as they can see the benefits that it brings to their students.
Eternity News said, "Religious education is a normal part of school. Having teachers come in and teach students about hope and about love, especially at the moment, is very important and reassuring for students."
Jamie Gibbins, Tenterfield Presbyterian Church