12 April 2017
Member for Ballina and NSW Greens spokesperson for Education, Tamara Smith, has criticised the NSW Government’s rejection of of the recommendation in the independent review into scripture teaching in NSW public schools that religion be an opt-in for students rather than compulsory unless you opt-out.
The recommendations about school enrolment forms and making Special Religious Education (SRE) an opt-in option for students was not supported by the NSW Government in its response to the 2015 review which has only just been publically released, despite the Greens asking for the release of the report for 12 months.
“It should be an opt-in option for SRE, not an opt-out. Religious instruction is extracurricular for state funded schools, it is not the core business of Public Schools. The NSW Government has decided that state schools are Christian by default.
“If students across NSW Public Schools were automatically opted in to Islamic studies, for example, when they enrolled there would be an absolute furore.”
“Why then is there the assumption that students in a secular nation, in secular schools, should be enrolled in studies of predominantly Judaeo-Christian traditions?” said Ms Smith.
The review recommended that students not participating in SRE should continue their regular classwork, but the NSW Government’s response is that ‘no academic instruction or formal school activities should occur during time set aside for SRE.’
“If parents and young people wish to sign up for scripture lessons they can elect to do so and those lessons should be given outside of the curriculum. Those students who have not chosen scripture studies should be able to continue with their education,” said Ms Smith.