Christians with a passion for their faith and a love for young people, are being urged to consider volunteering as a school scripture teacher—after a shortfall in teachers statewide due to COVID-19.
In some areas, the majority of scripture teachers are older retirees who are more vulnerable to the risk of COVID-19, and many have had to pull out of their scripture teaching role for the sake of their health.
Christian SRE, an advocacy organisation that oversees SRE (Special Religious Education) across NSW, is now hoping to recruit 1000 new volunteers in the coming months, to make up for the loss.
CEO Murray Norman told Hope 103.2 that people of all ages and church denominations are welcome to apply to become a scripture teacher.
“We work right across all the different denominations – with 11,500 teachers, teaching 380,000 students, from Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist churches and more.
“Each denomination has been pushing to get new teachers. With this campaign we are trying to raise a whole generation of younger teachers – not just because of COVID-19, but because in general we need more teachers for the future.”
“Religious education in schools gives young people the opportunity to ask the big questions about faith and life…”
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Christian SRE is an organisation that was established three years ago by the Interchurch Commission on Religious Education in Schools, to advocate for scripture teachers, in a climate of increasing political tensions around religious education.
“We were formed to really work on advocacy, promotion, getting the word out about the importance of religious education in schools. It gives young people the opportunity to ask the big questions about faith and life, and to explore Christianity,” Murray said.
“Social media the internet and popular opinion isn’t the best place to find values and hope. There are absolutes, and we do have a Creator, and we need to continue to give young people hope.”
The Community’s Contribution to Education
Officially known as Special Religious Education (SRE), scripture classes are the time set aside in Public Schools each week where parents can choose to have their children educated in the faith of their family and cultural background. The NSW Education Act (1990) allows for approved local churches in the community to train and resource teachers for the task.
The authorised curriculum provided by Christian SRE encourages students to question, explore and discover more about their Christian faith, and to learn what it means “to live well, to be in relationship with God and to embrace a life of service of others”.
Scripture teachers are encouraged to use a variety of teaching activities such as writing, craft, small groups, class discussion, music, drama, games and new learning technologies.
Training and Support are Provided
While many churches have teams of young people such as uni students teaching scripture on their days off, others have traditionally relied on older church members to fill the scripture teaching roles in their local schools.
Susan, an SRE coordinator at Kellyville Catholic Church, said she has had to recruit a number of new teachers in order to meet the shortfall for Term 3.
“Due to C-19 we have lost the majority of our scripture teachers… the majority of our SREs were into their 60s and 70s or with health problems, so it isn’t safe for them to be in schools at this present time,” she said. “I’m now teaching three classes in a row every Wednesday due to the shortage.
“Volunteers just need to be willing to come and teach children about their faith for half hour once a week. Everything is done for you, you just read through the lesson the night before.”
Most scripture teachers are volunteers, and all are given support, training and resources, through Christian SRE and their local church. People of any age are welcome to apply.