More controversial SRE materials axed from schools

A set of Special Religious Education (SRE) materials, which some have labelled as sexist and racist will be removed from NSW classrooms as of next year, according to the provider of the materials.

Youthworks’ director of ministry support, Jon Thorpe, told The Educator that the SRE resource You: an introduction would no longer be used in NSW schools from 2016.

The SRE resource came under fire in May when parent lobby group Fairness in Religion in Schools (FIRIS) claimed that curriculum material used by SRE providers promoted sexism, homophobia and discrimination against students with disabilities and from multicultural backgrounds.

The decision follows an overturning of a ban earlier this year by NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, on certain SRE materials in NSW schools.

In a letter to the Archbishop of Sydney published in May, Piccoli, said the SRE resources You: an introduction and Sneaking suspicions would not be removed from state schools and would continue to be allowed in schools.

“I wish to confirm that there is no ban in place on these books and I have requested the DEC to inform the Directors Public Schools accordingly,” Piccoli wrote.

However, a spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education confirmed on Tuesday that You: an introduction will not be allowed in classrooms from 2016.

“A decision was made by the provider that they would no longer list You: An Introduction as an authorised resource from 2016,” the spokesperson told The Educator.
“Approved providers of Special Religious Education make an annual assurance to the Department that only authorised curriculum materials will be delivered.
“The Department's position is that should any approved provider fail to comply with the requirements under the Education Act 1990 in relation to SRE, consideration of the organisation's status as an approved provider will be revised.”

FIRIS had expressed concerns that the resource – which still appears as an available resource for schools on the Christian Education Publications (CEP) website – would continue to be taught in the state’s schools.

However, Thorpe said that this was because Youthworks was still updating the curriculum.

“In 2014 we decided to do a review of our entire curriculum and, rather than putting another curriculum up and updating it, we’ve left the resource on the website until the updates to the curriculum are complete.”

“In the meantime we have informed our teachers [that the resource will no longer be taught from 2016],” he said.