Opposition to the chaplaincy program to step up

The campaign to demand that money allocated to the School Chaplaincy Program be re-directed to funding the employment of school counsellors with teaching qualifications and experience will be reinvigorated.

Annual Conference delegates on Tuesday morning also affirmed that Federation would advocate for a boost in the number of dual-qualified school counsellors, including an increase in the number and attractiveness of scholarships offered to existing teachers to retrain.

The School Chaplaincy Program is one of our biggest secular breaches and is a waste of tax payer money,” Eric Pearson Study Grant 2021 recipient Jack Galvin Waight said during his presentation in the afternoon.

Record funding to chaplains and religious schools has not occurred by accident; a small but organised religious lobby has influenced our public life, institutions, and policy,” he said. This lobby has taken an active interest in public education. And it is time that we, as a nation and union take a respectful interest in religion in schools too.”

Special Religious Education/Special Education in Ethics

Galvin Waight, a Federation Country Organiser, ran through a list of his recommendations, published in Teaching not preaching: Making our public schools secular, which include that Federation should intensify the campaign for the removal of Special Religious Education (SRE)/Special Education in Ethics.

Federation members have been complaining about SRE for years, in particular the inappropriate content of SRE lessons, the quality of the instructors and the waste of valuable learning time, potentially an entire term for a primary student graduate,” Galvin Waight said.

He said the consensus among academics was SRE is a flawed, dangerous, outdated model that no longer has any place in our school system.” Most parents are shocked when they find out what is occurring, often becoming the greatest campaigners for change,” he added.

A Federation-commissioned survey of adults across NSW found that most parents want religion to be taught after school hours and most support the teaching of secular values.

There is an educational alliance between Federation, the NSW Primary Principals’ Association and the Secondary Principals’ Council that SRE must go, or at the very least not occur during classroom teaching time, he said.

Galvin Waight outlined that in Victoria a precedent was created when: In 2015, the incoming [Victorian] Labor Government introduced a ministerial direction, removing Scripture from formal class time, virtually eliminating the program,” Galvin Waight said.

If it can happen in Victoria, it can happen in NSW.”

He suggests Federation should frame the campaign around time. In the classroom and modern society, time is crucial. Workloads are excessive and the curriculum is crowded. SRE is a massive waste of valuable learning time. Our students need teachers not preachers.”

Eric Pearson Study Grant applications close 11 October 2022

The 2023 Eric Pearson Study Grant award provides for up to $23,000 to examine an area of contemporary industrial and professional relevance to the Federation as a union and/or a group/groups of members.

The recipient may use the Federation funds for travel, accommodation and expenses associated with the study. Any private travel arrangements made in conjunction with the award are the responsibility of the recipient.

All research and travel must be completed by the end of 2023 with a final report being submitted to Federation before the last day of term 1, 2024.

For more details visit www.nswtf.org.au.