#978 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 12 Oct 2014.
Listeners may recall that the Department of Education and Communities was asked to commission an independent review of Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics in NSW schools including the issue of annual confirmation by parents or carers on “opting out” of SRE; and a review of activities and level of supervision for students who do not attend these classes.
The intent of the policy is to allow students freedom to “opt-out” of SRE classes, but the practice of some schools has been to implement an “opt-in” policy completely contrary to the spirit and letter of the recommendation.
It has the potential to sabotage SRE classes, distress the many fine volunteer SRE teachers, and deny students the opportunity of accessing quality special religious education.
Schools should stop instructing students, staff, parents and carers that students should “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.” But can the Minister control his department?
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.