Tag Archives: school scripture

Advice for school scripture teachers

NSW government schools’ ‘scripture’ (more formally, Special Religious Education) is where students receive instruction in a faith given by members of that faith.

I spoke recently at a scripture teacher commissioning, and we looked at Mark 12:13-17. I suggested that it’s OK that Jesus sparks controversy and difficult questions – Jesus is more than capable of facing any challenge thrown his way. The task of Christians, I think, is simply to be publicly amazed at Jesus.

The task of Christians, I think, is simply to be publicly amazed at Jesus.

I finished with four bits of advice for being a scripture teacher in a government school. Perhaps they apply to any Christian in any position in any school. What do you think?

  • In schools, be present as a visible and available representative of Christians and churches. Representing us is a serious matter. Don’t let us down!
  • In schools, be present as a Christian in a existing vibrant community. Each school has its own real community of people and values. Be a Christian who can understand that culture, appreciate it, and contribute to it
  • In schools, be present as a speaker for Jesus Christ and about Jesus Christ. Jesus’ influence on our society is great, therefore Jesus repays serious study by everyone. Schools teach and learn – so teach clearly that people may learn. Some learners will turn to Jesus. Fantastic! We don’t, however, control people but we do control our teaching
  • In schools, be present for all: Christian and non-Christian; interested and uninterested; enquirer and mocker; student, staff or family


School scripture in NSW

Or Special Religious Education (SRE), as it is formally called. 

For those interested in the developments in NSW, you will know that the current state opposition announced they would scrap the competition between SRE and the new Ethics course. And within a couple of months announced a policy reversal.

I asked my local MP why. Via the local member, I got this response from the shadow education minister (Andrew Piccolli):

When the govt announced its change of policy to allow ethics classes to be held during SRE time we said we would change that policy and not allow ethics classes after the end of 2011. After we announced that the govt introduced a bill to legislate ethics. We voted against the bill however it passed with support of the greens. Now that ethics classes are the law and we wont (sic) be able to change it because of the LC [Legislative Council, ie NSW upper house] makeup we have said, reluctantly, that we will work with St James Ethics Centre and SRE providers to make sure the ethics classes work and that they dont impact on SRE classes. So more or less we have been boxed in to this position.

If I understand correctly, this says the retraction of the poicy was political in nature: we have been boxed in to this position.

I am not saying this is wrong or right – unlike some, I don’t think ‘politics’ is inherently evil! I am simply passing on what I heard, in case you are interested.