Thousands of Catholic volunteers (Catechists) have been preparing for a new era of Special Religious Education (SRE) in NSW Public Schools. Amid calls to modernise the way SRE lessons are presented to the digital generation of students, the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools (CCRESS) has updated their curriculums, developed new training modules and consulted with policy makers to create this new era of SRE.
Primary and secondary classes will be enhanced with electronic resources, learner-centred activities and notes alerting catechists to topics that require sensitivity to student needs, family situations and attitudes. In 2020, the Diocese of Broken Bay is publishing the third edition of the highly innovative Walking with Jesus program with colourful new graphics and a range of electronic resources. Responding to student and teacher feedback, the Broken Bay CCD team is systematically revising the entire Kinder to Year 6 program. Previews of the new material have had Catechists very excited about returning to classes this year.
A CCRESS team of Religious Education professionals from the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Dioceses of Broken Bay, Parramatta and Maitland-Newcastle have developed a digital high school program, Pathways of Discipleship which will be used for SRE classes across the State for the first time. Care has been taken over controversial issues of morality and social norms while the authentic teachings of Jesus and his Church are presented in modern formats and with engaging activities. There is a great deal of anticipation among Catechists about this new program as the trial lessons have been received with such positive feedback from both students and teachers.
In a society as diverse as Australia, teaching of students in public schools needs to be age appropriate and sensitive. Over past few year, CCRESS Educators have trained thousands of dedicated Catechists to be more aware of difference and teach students our stories and beliefs with care and respect for individuals. These workshops and course have also introduced contemporary learning strategies and resources designed to increase the effectiveness of the precious time spent in class with young people exploring the Catholic faith.
Expert trainer, Michael Tebbutt working with Catechists of the Central Coast
Each diocese as a Catholic SRE provider has responded to the recommendations of the 2015 Independent Review of SRE and SEE and worked closely with NSW Department of Education and other churches and faith groups to develop policies, procedures and programs that give families greater information, increased transparency and more effective educational outcomes. While attendance at SRE classes has always been popular, we all anticipate an increase in participation rates as parent/caregivers consider the choices available for the spiritual formation of their children in public schools.
CCD Regional Coordinator
Diocese of Broken Bay