A letter regarding the P&C Federation position on the place of simultaneous education alongside SRE & SEE Timeslots

Dear P&C Members,

I have recently been made aware of a 2018 Press Release by the NSW Parents and Citizens Federation regarding Special Religious Education and Special Ethics Education. The media release supports the view, on behalf of the Federation, that students who do not attend SRE or SEE should continue with normal school work while SRE and SEE classes are run.

As the parent of three children, many of you are aware that I am active within the school community. I am also an active supporter of the public education system, our local school teachers and the school environment.

I constantly praise the school for their work providing not just the academic education of my children, but also the emotional, social and physical education of my children. These aspects of their education also transcend the classroom into our homes, and then extend into our everyday lives, shaping and sculpting my children as they grow and develop.

It is in this spirit that I also support the teaching provided by SRE and SEE. The values taught through these curriculums shape and provide an appropriate lens for my children to understand the world in which they live in a manner that is congruent with the values we also hold at home.

I acknowledge that parents will hold a range of diverse views on how these are taught, and so believe it is appropriate for this education to be delivered through a framework that is compatible with the beliefs and teachings chosen by the parents. The approach of SRE and SEE within the NSW Education System provide this avenue.

However, I am concerned that if normal academic classes continue at the same time as SRE & SEE, my children will be disadvantaged as they will not be able to participate in aspects of their schooling. I am also concerned that parents, including myself, will feel compelled to make a choice between two vital areas of education – even if they strongly believe they should not be in opposition to one another.

Having said this, I acknowledge that some parents within my school community may hold a different view to me. I respect their right to a diversity of opinion regarding the value of SRE and SEE, and support their right to hold these opinions and continue the public discourse regarding this.

I am concerned that the P&C Federation view, as contained within the media release, cannot represent the diversity of opinion that I know exists within our school community.

As such, I am writing to you to ask:

  • That the P&C Association acknowledges that parents may hold a diversity of opinions regarding SRE & SEE, their place within the school system, and how they should be delivered
  • That the P&C Association acknowledges that it is not appropriate for it to form a view on behalf of the parent community unless it can demonstrate that the view is held by the parent community as a whole
  • That, in this vein, the P&C Association writes to the NSW Federation to indicate that:
    • Our parent community holds a wide variety of views regarding SRE & SEE
    • The association feels that it is not appropriate for the Federation to make a public statement regarding the view of their membership and affiliated bodies when a significant number of them are actually not in support of the position statement
    • the Federation to publicly acknowledge that they are not in a position to make a statement regarding this matter due to a range of diverse opinions regarding SRE and SEE throughout their schools and members
    • the Federation refrain from making public policy comment regarding SRE & SEE unless it can demonstrate that the member parent body is broadly in support of its position

Warmest regards,

Andrew Yager

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