The education and care of children is of great importance for every Australian. As Catholics we know that this includes a full human and Christian formation.
Today’s children need to be given what they need to navigate the complexities and difficulties of contemporary life. Specifically, a spiritual life, or at least the openness to God is necessary. Our Catholic faith provides our children with something of what they will need to live fulfilled and happy lives.
Many catholic children attend state schools, and it is our responsibility to give them the opportunity to know and love Jesus Christ. Members of the CCD give time and energy to teaching catechism to our Catholic children in the state schools. I commend their work and thank them for their generosity.
Bishop Greg Homeming OCD
What is SRE?
Special Religious Education
Special Religious Education (SRE) for Catholic students in Public Schools, is managed by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD). CCD is a worldwide organisation concerned with faith education. It began with the work of lay people in Milan, Italy in 1556.
In 1960 when the “Motor Missions” were set up in the Lismore Diocese, Catechists were able to receive support, help and formation in the parishes where the sisters operated.
In 1993 a CCD Director for the Diocese of Lismore was appointed by Bishop John Satterthwaite. The role of the Director is to support all the Catechists in the Diocese in meeting the requirements of the Department of Education with regard to Authorisation, Training and Curriculum.
Catechists are men and women who are committed to the Faith Development and Religious Education of Catholic children in government schools and volunteer for this ministry. They strive to ensure the inclusion of the children and their families in the local parish community.
“Fan into a flame the gift that God gave you”
Catechists in Parishes
There are currently ten Parishes in which Catechists are teaching in local Public Schools.
In each of these Parishes, there is a Catechist Coordinator who is responsible for coordinating the group, liaising with the Parish Priest and the Diocesan Coordinator to keep details up to date, and organising school placements and resources.
Diocese of Lismore
Parents and Schools
SRE in Public Schools
Special Religious Education in Public Schools
Where possible, Catholic SRE is taught in Public Schools by Catechists, otherwise known as SRE Teachers.
SRE is provided in Public Schools under Section 32 of the Education Act 1990 which requires that: ‘in every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion’.
This means there is a historical and legal basis for the provision of Special Religious Education as part of the education of children and young people in New South Wales Public Schools. The following document provides additional information about how SRE is implemented:
Special Religious Education Procedures
What is a Catechist
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Catechists are parish volunteers who…
Have a passion for sharing the gift of faith with young people.
Teach and share their faith with children of their parish who attend government schools.
Have a couple of hours per week spare to share their time and talents with young people.
Are people who respond to the central mission of the Church to make Jesus known and loved.
The fundamental vocation and mission of the parish is:
“to be a place in the world for the community of believers to gather together as a sign and instrument of the vocation of all to communion, in a word, to be a house of welcome and a place of service to all.” Pope Saint John Paul II
For those who cannot or do not attend Catholic Schools, SRE provides a religious dimension in state schooling which contributes to a Catholic education. The parish has a responsibility to assist parents to provide a Catholic education for their children according to circumstances.
Catechists, (Catholic SRE teachers) offer the genuinely human values of the Gospel as a contribution to the personal development of students.
Catechists assist the Parish Priest to fulfil his obligations in Religious Education as well as assist and support parents in their responsibility.
“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers,and if he does listens to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”
Pope Saint Paul VI
Catholic SRE is managed in NSW Public Schools by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
“Christ our light and life” COLAL
Christ our Light and Life (COLAL) is designed and approved for use as the main resource of Special Religious Education (SRE) for Catholic children attending public schools in the Lismore Diocese.
This program meets the legislative requirements of the NSW Department of Education and Training and has been specifically written for volunteer Catholic SRE teachers.
“Christ Our Light and Life” explores the significance of human life experiences then relates those to the gospel message. Through a variety of strategies, students respond to what they have learned.
The programs are designed to be most appropriate for the age of the students they have been prepared for. However, it may be possible, where necessary, to use the programs with students one year younger or one year older than recommended.
Catechists teaching multi-age classes should discuss their students’ needs with the CCD Co-ordinator.
Click here to look at the COLAL Overview, Scope and Sequence and Lesson Topics. https://ccd.sydneycatholic.org/publications/curriculum-resources/
Review and Revision
The Christ our Light and Life curriculum series is purposely reprinted each year so that updates and revisions may be made. A process of cyclic review is in place that is undertaken every five years by the Archdiocese of Sydney who supplies us with our curriculum material.
Whilst new books are printed for each new school year, the Diocesan Coordinator will be informed of revisions to advise their local-level Parish SRE Catechist Co-ordinators, so that students have the same version of the Student Activity Book or their SRE teacher is aware to make any minor changes if using up books ordered from a previous year.
Catechists may from time to time bring additional resources to classes such a Holy Pictures, Religious Devotional items such as a statue or rosary beads, short stories and the like to build upon or enhance on the curriculum provided, especially in seasons such as Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas, a Solemnity, or Feast Days of the Church.
Christ our Light and Life is informed by the following practical principles:
Formation in faith is a life-long journey. Life itself is the context of any religious education program;
The needs of students change over time. Therefore, a variety of teaching methods are required over time;
The students’ lives influence their expressions of faith. Thus catechists’ teaching strategies will respond to and respect the cultural diversity of students and their families;
The family is the basic community of the Church. Links between the home, parish and school are discovered and encouraged.
Recruitment Training and Support
The Authorisation Process and Code of Conduct clarifies the standards of behaviour that is expected of all employees, volunteers, religious and lay people working on behalf of the Diocese of Lismore CCD. SRE teachers are to endorse the principles of the current Child Protection Law and follow the Department of Education Religious Education Implementation Procedures as an essential responsibility.
As part of the Authorisation Process, the following steps are required:
- Complete a Teacher Application Form
- Obtain a Working With Children Check Clearance WWCC
- Complete an Annual Teacher Engagement Form
- Complete Child Protection and Mandatory Reporter Training
- Participate in Mandatory Training which includes Classroom Management
- Adhere to the Code of Conduct
- Added to Authorisation Form for school notification.
- Supplied with an Authorisation Card
- Supplied with a Parish issued Name Badge
Teacher Application Form (TAF)
A Teacher Application Form is to be completed and submitted to your Parish Priest with photo identification (drivers license). If accepted, an Annual Teacher Engagement Form must be completed. Copies of these Forms will be kept at the Parish Office and Chancery.
The following records are kept for each SRE teacher at the Diocese of Lismore Chancery Office:
- Full name
- Contact details
- Date of Birth
- WWCC number
- Verification date
- Verification outcome
- Expiry date
- Record of Training
Working With Children Check Clearance (WWCC)
In accordance with the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012, all SRE teachers are required to apply for a WWCC and obtain a clearance number. The number and your date of birth must be provided for verification by the Diocese of Lismore Coordinator of CCD. The WWCC involves a national criminal history check and a review of findings of workplace misconduct.
Child Protection and Mandatory Reporter Training
SRE teachers are Mandatory Reporters and as such are required to report risk of harm concerns about children and young people, within their roles, and to provide support to children and young people.
It is a responsibility to ensure that all SRE teachers:
- Have participated in an initial Child Protection induction and an update during the past year
- Are aware of the indicators of abuse and neglect of children and young people
- Are aware of their obligation to advise the principal or workplace manager of concerns about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people that arise during the course of their work
- Are aware of their obligation to report suspected risk of significant harm and of the procedures for doing so.
The Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools (CCRESS) has developed training modules which includes Child Protection Training. It is an expectation that all Catechists complete this training initially and then participates in regular and ongoing Child Protection Training. The link to the CCRESS Online training modules can be found on the Catechists drop-down menu on this site.
Initial and Ongoing Training
New Catechists (SRE teachers), are expected to participate in the Mandatory Training required and agreed to by the Department of Education.
The Catholic Conference of Religious Educators in State Schools (CCRESS) in conjunction with the Diocese of Wollongong, has developed online learning modules for Catechist training.
- Child Protection and Mandatory Reporter Training
- The SRE Teacher in Parish and Schools
- Development of the Child and Adolescent
- Introduction to the Bible
- Using an Authorised Curriculum
- The Mission and Ministry of the Catechist
- Classroom Skills: Questioning
- The Teaching Authority of the Catholic Church
- Classroom Skills: Behaviour Management
Catholic SRE is managed in NSW Public Schools by the Lismore Diocesan CCD Coordinator arranges for and facilitates Training, and maintains a – record of training undertaken by Catechists.
As well as completing initial and ongoing training, teachers will be subject to a Teacher Review (Audit) which includes Lesson Observation and Self Reflection undertaken every two years.
The review process addresses identified issues, such as, further training and mentor support, and is used to update training courses in view of emerging classroom behavioural trends and best practice teaching techniques. Results of the Audit are made available to the Bishop each year.
Code of Conduct
All Catechists entering Public Schools as SRE teachers are representing their Parish, their Diocese, their Bishop and their Church. They are therefore expected to adhere to the Diocese of Lismore CCD Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct gives guidance in areas where staff and volunteers need to make personal and ethical decisions.
The Diocese of Lismore Code of Conduct is aligned with the Department of Education’s Code of Conduct, and SRE teachers are expected to be aware of and follow both.
Please click on the links below to view or download these Codes.
At the beginning of each school year, before the SRE classes have begun, the Authorisation Document will be sent to the school listing the names of the teachers, their contact details and date of birth.
“The following Catholic SRE Teachers (Catechists) have been authorised to teach SRE in your school having met relevant Child Protection and Departmental requirements. They have obtained Working with Children Check clearances verified by the Diocesan Coordinator of SRE, as the employer, and have completed courses in Child Protection and Classroom Management.”
Authorised Catechists will receive an Authorisation Card at the beginning of each year, which is to be signed, dated and stamped by their Parish Priest. The card also states the School/s in which they will be teaching. The Authorisation Card is renewed each year in a different colour.
The Authorisation Card must be carried at all times the Catechist is on the school premises and must be shown upon request.
Parish Name Badge
It is the responsibility of each Parish to supply Catechists with a Parish Name Badge. The Name Badge must be worn at all times the Catechist is on the school premises.
Diocese of Lismore SRE Policies
Policies Governing the Administration of Special Religious Education (SRE)
Special Religious Education in the Diocese of Lismore is conducted according to the Education Act 1990 Section 32, and Department of Education Religious Education Policy and Procedures.
The following Diocese of Lismore Policies can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the link.
Seasonal Activities for Families
Meet the Government and Parish requirements for working with children. This involves applying for a Working With Children Check Clearance and completing a Teacher Engagement Form.
The jurisdiction of a Parish Priest. The geographical area from which families come to attend the Parish Church or attend the local Catholic or Public School/s.
A volunteer or paid teacher working in Public Schools committed to the Faith Development and Religious Education of Catholic children in government schools. Catechists are personally called to witness and proclaim the Gospel values of Jesus.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is a worldwide organisation concerned with faith education. It began with the work of lay people in Milan, Italy in 1556. The CCD supports and encourages the work of Catechists in each Diocese.
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct gives guidance in areas where staff and volunteers need to make personal and ethical decisions. The Diocese of Lismore Catechist Code of Conduct is aligned with the Department of Education’s Code of Conduct, and Catechists are expected to be aware of and follow both.
The Curriculum approved for use in the Diocese of Lismore is Christ our Light and Life.
Parish Coordinator: Assists the Parish Priest to organise Catechists, allocate classes, manage resources, and liaise with the Priest and Diocesan Coordinator.
Diocesan Coordinator: Assists the Bishop to organise Parish Coordinators, verify WWCC numbers, facilitate training and liaise with State and NAtional organisations including CCRESS, NCCD and ICCOREIS.
Promotes the Mission of the Catholic Church by assisting families of Catholic Students attending State Schools in NSW and the ACT through programs of religious education and catechesis. Click on the link above for the complete Charter of CCRESS.
Curriculum is the subject matter taught to students or an arrangement of instructional materials. The Authorised curriculum for Catholic students in the Lismore Diocese is Christ our Light and Life, however, other curriculums authorised for use include Connect (Christian Education Publications) and Godspace (Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT), which can be used in Combined or Joint-Denominational arrangements.
There are eleven dioceses in NSW, each with a Bishop who has charge of all the parishes contained in the geographical area. The Lismore Diocese extends from Tweed Heads in the North down to Laurieton in the south. The Lismore Diocese is bordered by the Armidale Diocese in the west and Maitland-Newcastle in the south.
Click on this link to view the Maps and Boundaries of Dioceses in NSW.
Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools. ICCOREIS represents many churches that provide religious education in public schools in NSW. ICCOREIS encourage consultation and cooperation between members. Their goal is to support, promote and develop quality religious education in public schools while respecting the integrity of each member and other approved providers.
To Know Worship and Love text. The COLAL curriculum was based on this text book which is used by Catholic schools in the Lismore Diocese.
National Confraternity of Christian Doctrine This National body meets to network, support and collaborate biennially.
Frequently Asked Questions
Become a Catechist / SRE Teacher
What is involved?
To be a Catechist you need to be able to:
- Give around one hour each week to share your faith in a local government school.
- Do a little bit of preparation at home, using the lesson resources and work books provided for students and the Catechist.
- Participate in some training and support offered from time to time by the Parish and the Diocesan CCD Coordinator.
- Be a person in good standing with the Church eager to share the message of the Gospel and your love of God with young people, who are eager to hear it.
How can I get started?
There are some important requirements to becoming a Catechist.
- Interested new recruits need to complete and submit a Teacher Application Form to their Parish Priest. This form can be found in the Parish Resources under the Catechists drop-down menu on this site.
- Catechists need to complete a Working with Children Check Clearance (WWCC) to ensure that they have not been convicted of any offence against children.
- Initial Mandatory Training in Child Protection must be completed before you go into the classroom. This must be regularly updated.
- Unless something untoward occurs, a Catechist must be prepared to make a commitment for at least one year to prepare lessons and teach a class. This commitment would require about two hours per week.
- Catechists are expected to complete training before they begin teaching. Training can be completed online in most cases.
- Catechists are expected to update their training regularly, participating in Training sessions at least a couple of times during the year.
- Unless permission to do otherwise is given by the Parish Priest, Catechists are expected to teach from the approved program.
- To be a successful Catechist a person needs to be committed, prepared to attend school regularly and love working with children.
If you would like to know more on how to become a Catechist, please fill out our Expression of Interest Form below.
TO KNOW WORSHIP AND LOVE
The major classroom resource recommended for use with Christ our Light and Life (COLAL) is To Know Worship and Love (KWL). These texts are bright and colourful and formed the basis of the COLAL curriculum. All Parishes have access to these books, however further books can be purchased through the To Know Worship and Love website.
KWL Big Books
As well as the children’s books, there are Big Books designed for use in the K-2 classes for storytelling and discussion.
Big Books can be borrowed from the CCD Coordinator or their nearest Catholic School Library.
Copies can also be purchased from the website.
Parish Coordinators and Parish Adminstration
Start of year documents
At the beginning of each year, Parish Coordinators are required to provide the following updated documents to the Diocesan Coordinator. Please note that the Notification to Schools document must be produced with the Parish Letterhead.
- Register of Parish Catechists
- School Placement
- Authorisation Letter
- Parish SRE Information for Report
Download the following Poster or Brochure to display in your Church.
Service Award for Catechists
Recognising and rewarding voluteer Catechists for their service
Many teach for a great number of years and while they certainly don’t want or seek recognition, celebrating their contribution to the life of the Parish, lets them know they are valued and important Parish members.
Recognition of Service
Presented at 5, 10, 15, 20 years of service.
- Catechists receive a Certificate of Recognition as well as a badge encrypted with the number of years served.
- Certificates and Badges are presented during the Bishop’s visit to the Parish. Usually Confirmation time, but at a separate Mass or celebration.
Presented at 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service.
- Catechists receive a Papal Blessing as well as a Certificate of Recognition.
- Catechists also receive a Badge recognising the number of years served.
Always ensure your records are kept up-to-date with your Parish Coordinator to ensure you are recognised correctly for your wonderful years of service and dedication.
CCRESS Online Training
WWC Application & Renewal
28th March 2019
All faith SRE launches “Year of Values” as new survey shows huge support for scripture classes
Faith leaders have claimed 2019 as ‘the year of values’, and launched a video highlighting the mental health and multicultural benefits of special religious education (SRE) while revealing massive public support for the program.
Landmark research by one of Australia’s most respected independent research companies McCrindle, has found that almost 80 per cent of Australians believe that “schools should be a safe place for students to explore deeper questions of faith and belief”.
Christian SRE spokesperson Murray Norman says the findings are not surprising because families want the choice to explore values that are important to them and their culture in a school environment.
The research comes on the back of a recent global study by two world-renowned academics that confirmed the tangible benefits of SRE to children and the broader community.
Mr Norman said the international study found that SRE improves the mental health of children and promotes cross-cultural harmony.
“SRE is about values, and values should be at the core of every student’s holistic education,” he said.
The McCrindle research also found that close to 93 per cent of those surveyed agree that schools should place a greater emphasis on mental health and wellbeing.
“The academic study showed that SRE plays an important role in promoting the mental health and well-being of children, and this is what Australians expect from our schools.”
It also drew a direct link between SRE and the positive benefits of multiculturalism in resolving cross-cultural conflict.
All-faiths SRE spokesperson Hilit Man said SRE plays an important role by, “reclaiming the values of Australian society that promotes multiculturalism in its true sense.”
She said children are taught to respect each other regardless of differences.
“The foundation for erasing racial tension and conflict must start in our homes but also in the school playground.”
Mr Norman said the findings have compelled Australia’s faith leaders to unite like never before to endorse teaching values.
“We have joined as one to promote SRE to all people because we know it is good for the future well-being of this country and embraces cultural diversity.”
Newsletter June 2012
Newsletter December 2013
Newsletter August 2014
Newsletter September 2015
Newsletter November 2016
The Catechist Matters November 2017