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CCD/SRE explained

“Being a catechist is not a title, it is an attitude: abiding with him, and it lasts for a lifetime! It means abiding in the Lord’s presence and letting ourselves be led by him”.
Pope Francis 

“Special Religious Education (SRE) is education in the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion. Under the Education Act 1990, s. 32, government schools allow time for special religious education.” (DoE SRE)

The Catholic Diocese of Bathurst provides a ministry to students in public schools through groups of volunteer Special Religious Education (SRE) teachers in each parish. Volunteer SRE teachers and helpers carry the message to the students in public schools that God is love and Jesus came to bring the Good News.

Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools

CCRESS is the Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools in NSW-ACT. It draws its membership from every Catholic Diocese in NSW and the ACT and exists to assist Bishops to promote the evangelising mission of the Catholic Church through the work of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD).

Bishop Brian Mascord, Diocese of Wollongong, has been allocated the responsibility by the NSW-ACT Bishops for issues associated with the work of CCD via CCRESS.

Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools (NSW) inc.

ICCOREIS is the peak body that represents many Christian churches that provide Special Religious Education in public schools in NSW. More information can be found at http://www.iccoreis.asn.au/

The SRE Team

The Diocese provides support and encouragement to SRE teachers and helpers through regional coordinators. They regularly visit schools and parishes to encourage the SRE teachers and helpers in their important work. They are also involved in training programs.

Mrs Vicki Mair is the Southern Region SRE coordinator. In this role, Vicki assists, supports and encourages SRE teachers through term visits.

Vicki has been a classroom teacher for many years in both city and country schools. Vicki is an experienced SRE teacher who lives in Bathurst and is a member of St Michael and St John’s Cathedral Parish.

Contact details:
p: 02 6334 6400
e: vicki.mair@bathurst.catholic.org.au

Miss Jacinta Thatcher joined the Special Religious Education (SRE) coordinating team in August 2017 as the Northern Region SRE Coordinator. She is also the Mission and Renewal Project Officer.

Jacinta completed a degree in Theology in 2017 and is a member of the St John the Baptist Parish, Gulgong. Jacinta is a Catholic representative on ICCOREIS and the Department of Education Consultative Committee.

Contact details:
p: 02 6334 6400
e: sre2@bathurst.catholic.org.au

Volunteers

SRE teachers and helpers visit the local public school on behalf of the local parish. Most parishes have an SRE coordinator who can talk to you about how SRE is organised in your parish. Please contact your parish office or email your regional coordinator for more information.

Authorisation of SRE teachers and helpers

The authorisation process involves:

Obtain a Working With Children Check (WWCC) number. This can be obtained from the Office of the Children’s Guardian. The WWCC will be verified by the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst.

Complete a Safe Ministry Check and Clearance form and SRE Volunteer Engagement form (these are also available from your parish office). Give these forms, with your WWCC “Notice to Employer’ letter received from the Children’s Guardian, to the parish office or send to the Catholic Chancery Office, PO Box 246, Bathurst NSW 2795, to be verified. You can also email the forms to standards@bathurst.catholic.org.au

You will then be given a Code of Conduct to read and a form to sign to say that you agree to follow the code.

You are expected to be aware of the Department of Education’s Code of Conduct which can be found by searching for code of conduct at https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library.

You will complete training in Child Protection and Mandatory Reporting. The preferred training is the Safe Church Awareness Workshop.

Your authorisation card and name badge will be issued.To continue to be authorised you must complete training in Classroom Management, Delivering the Curriculum and other modules suggested by the Inter-Church Commission of Religious Education in Schools (ICCOREIS). Child Protection, Mandatory Reporting and Classroom Management training need to be refreshed every three years. Your regional coordinator will let you know how to access this training. Your parish SRE coordinator will act as a mentor for you during initial training.

You will be supported in your role by your parish SRE coordinator, other SRE teachers, your parish priest, the regional SRE coordinator and the prayers of many across the Diocese. You will also be asked to formally reflect on your teaching at least once a year. This will include teacher self-reflection and may also include student feedback, classroom observation, supervisor feedback, mentor support and adherence to the authorised curriculum. The results of these reflections will help us to identify relevant training as part of the annual assurance process.

Form to link to: Safe Ministry Check and Clearance form_Revised May 2019.pdf
Safe Ministry registration and SRE Declaration Form_adjusted15May2019.pdf (709 KB)

Online Training Resources

The training program includes modules in Child Protection, Classroom Management, Curriculum Use and Lesson Planning, Teaching Authority of the Church, Introduction to the Bible, Child Development, Mission and Ministry of the Catechist and Classroom Skills/Questioning. It builds on the work CCRESS and individual dioceses have been doing in public schools for over 25 years.

To enrol in the online training modules, please contact our SRE Coordinator, Jacinta Thatcher via email: sre2@bathurst.catholic.org.au

What we teach

SRE teachers and helpers teach from approved curriculum that have been written by educators. There are two types of programs, Catholic programs and Combined programs.

All programs are reviewed by the providers on a cyclic basis (for more information please see their websites). Only the most current version of the curriculum is approved to teach in the Diocese.

Catholic Special Religious Education (SRE)

At schools where there are separate SRE classes for Catholic students the program Christ our Light and Life from the Sydney Archdiocese is used. An overview of the content can be found at http://www.ccdsydney.catholic.edu.au/currRes/overview.html.

Joint Denominational SRE

At schools where all Christian denominations are taught together a program that has been approved by all providers is used. The ones used in the Bathurst Diocese are listed below. Please contact your local school or coordinator to see which program is used.

Beginning with God:  https://cepconnect.com.au/images/uploads/BWG-Syllabus-all.pdf

Combined Connect: http://cepconnect.com.au/images/uploads/Connect-scope-and-sequence-all.pdf 

Combined GodSpace: https://godspace.org.au/curriculum/

The following resources from the Department of Education and Training are useful for SRE teachers and anyone interested in the SRE program.

Implementation procedures: https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/associated-documents/REimplementproced.pdf

Learning across the curriculum Religion and Ethics: https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/religion-and-ethics

Code of Conduct

SRE teachers visit schools as ambassadors for Christ and their relationships with children are marked by the Christian virtues of respect, service, justice and love.

As SRE teachers we share the privilege of sharing the Good News of Jesus with children in public schools. However, like every adult who works with children, each SRE Teacher is obliged by NSW Child Protection Legislation and other legislation to fulfil certain requirements. Such legislation aims to protect children for whom the Department of Education is responsible, as well as enhancing the effectiveness of the delivery of SRE to students.

Child Protection measures are in harmony with the Christian notion that each person is valued as a unique person fashioned in the image and likeness of God. Child Protection legislation requires that children are, at all times, treated in such a manner that they are enabled to develop into free, unique and autonomous persons endowed with dignity.  SRE Teachers actively support and adhere to such legislation.

Each church authority is allowed to send its SRE teachers into NSW public schools only on condition that the church has in place structures to ensure that its SRE teachers conform to the requirements of this legislation.

SRE teachers authorised by the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst adhere to the following Code of Conduct.

If you feel that an SRE teacher authorised by the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst is not adhering to the Code of Conduct or have any other concerns you may complete and submit this Complaints Form. The Special Religious Education Complaints Policy and Procedure will be followed to resolve the issue. The SRE Complaints Flowchart outlines this process.

If the issue is a breach of child protection legislation, please contact the school principal and then the safeguarding officer at the Chancery on (02) 6334 6400.

Files to be linked to

History of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in the Diocese of Bathurst

Much of the early history of CCD in the diocese was never recorded. Attendance books at state schools indicate that priests, and later mothers of children attending these schools, went into the small schools to provide religious instruction. The Josephite Sisters of the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst also corrected Religion by Letter of children unable to attend a Catholic school, and it is assumed the Sisters of Mercy and other teaching Sisters would have done likewise.

In the Diocese, numerous small Catholic schools were staffed by religious sisters during the period from the 1920’s to the late 1960’s, and hence during these years, only children in very isolated areas did not have access to a Catholic school. Until Vatican II (1962-1965), official church policy was that Catholic students were not to be sent to state schools except in the case of necessity. As a result, there was a general reluctance on the part of clergy or parents to become involved in the religious education of children attending such schools. With the implementation of the Wyndham scheme in NSW (early 1960’s), in 1963 and 1964 several small Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese were closed. This meant that many secondary students in small rural centres had no opportunity for religious education beyond Year 6.

In 1974, two Perthville Josephite Sisters began to staff a motor mission established under Bishop ARE Thomas to provide religious education to Catholic students in those centres that had lost their small secondary schools. The first Motor Mission Sisters were based in Dunedoo and served Dunedoo, Mendooran, Coolah and Gulgong. In the early 1980’s, the Motor Mission was extended to include Kandos and Rylstone, and by the mid-1980’s when the Motor Mission Sisters were based in Gulgong, they also visited nearby Goolma. This Motor Mission was terminated when four Josephite Sisters were entrusted with the task of coordinating the ministry to state school students throughout the Diocese.

In 1975, the NSW government began a ministerial inquiry into the place of Religious Education in Government Schools. The Rawlinson Report, published in 1980, challenged the churches to take more seriously their role in providing quality religious education in government schools. It was about this time that more concentrated efforts were made to provide Religious Education for Catholic students in government schools in the Diocese of Bathurst. Old attendance books for Scripture teachers indicate that during the 1960’s and 1970’s priests and lay catechists worked in some of the small state schools where there had never been a Catholic school. I can first remember encountering lay people going into state schools in larger centres during the period 1973 ~ 1979. Records indicate that the first available Diocesan-wide census of Catholic students attending state schools is dated 1979.

To help prepare catechists for their work in the schools, the Sisters of St. Joseph made available, at the beginning of 1981, a correspondence course for catechists working in state schools. Twenty Josephite Sisters took on the task of being tutors for the large numbers who enrolled in the course. Correspondence from 1981 indicates that in the Diocese at this time there existed a Commission for CCD and that there were an estimated 7,460 Catholic students in the state schools of the Diocese. In addition to the Correspondence Course for Catechists, syllabuses for each year, kindergarten to Year 6, were drawn up under the guidance of the Diocesan Religious Education Coordinator and lesson sheets were made available for each teacher. SRE Teachers were also assisted by experienced religious education teachers from the teaching congregations working within the Diocese at the time.

In 1975-1986, some in-service for catechists was provided under the direction of the Religious Education Coordinator of the Diocesan Catholic Education Office. Teaching sisters continued to assist SRE Teachers in informal ways with teaching strategies and teaching resources.

During 1984-85, there was a diocesan-wide survey of priests and catechists carried out by a committee of Sisters of St. Joseph – Srs Joan Farrell, Robyn McNamara and Maureen Schiemer. This committee reported its findings to Bishop Dougherty and late in 1986, a team of four sisters was set up to oversee the work of CCD in the Diocese. Members of this team were Sisters Clare Hopper, Mary Devoy, Alice Mary Sullivan and Maureen Schiemer. This group was given the task of overseeing the work of the catechists and later assumed responsibility for the administration of the Correspondence Course for Catechists.

In 1987, the Directors of CCD in each diocese of NSW met and formed a group for mutual support and encouragement in this ministry. During its first years, this state group provided invaluable information regarding the Department of School Education expectations of SRE teachers. The formation of this group greatly assisted in providing a more professional approach to SRE and has certainly assisted diocesan personnel in their ministry. This body is now known as CCRESS (Catholic Conference for Religious Education in State Schools).

From 1989-2000 an annual Diocesan Catechist Day was held to encourage catechists of the diocese. By 2000 it became obvious that changed circumstances had caused this event to be no longer feasible to hold and so was allowed to lapse.

Since 1994, Catechist Sunday has been observed each year in each of the parishes of the diocese. The purpose of this day is to focus the attention of the local Catholic community on the importance of this ministry. Since 1993 a catechist newsletter has been published each term to provide information, support and encouragement to SRE teachers. In 1993, a regional Committee affiliated with ICCOREIS NSW was set up in the central west of NSW. This body was known as the Western region inter-church Committee on SRE, and organised regular face–to-face in-service education for SRE teachers of all religious denominations. Members of the Coordinating team are active in assisting this inter-church committee. The Correspondence Course for Catechists underwent a major update and a Unit 2 course was also developed.

In 2001 Mrs Rosemary Doherty was appointed to the team when Srs Therese Patterson and Kath English were no longer able to remain on the team. Rosemary worked from Dubbo and is responsible for parishes in that area of the diocese. In 2003, Mrs Vicki Mair, Bathurst was appointed to the team and assists in the southern end of the Diocese. Miss Helen Ryan was appointed to replace Rosemary at the beginning of 2006.

Sr Maureen Schiemer retired as Director of CCD in the Diocese at the end of 2007 and handed the role over to Helen Ryan, who passionately carried out the coordinator’s role until her retirement in July 2017. The role is now held by Vicki Mair (Southern) and Jacinta Thatcher (Northern).