Religious Instruction – Consent Example for Schools

QPSSS has prepared an example of the completed ‘Information to parents and consent form- religious instruction and other instruction’, to assist parents and principals.

Our school is ‘Example State School’ and our principal ‘Joan Policy-Compliant’ is sending this form to all year 2 and 4 parents at her school as these are the year levels currently offered RI.

We prepared this example as we have seen a few attempts now by principals to use this new form with varying degrees of success. Hopefully our form will help them.

‘Example State School’ Religious and Other Instruction Consent Form

Does your school comply with the Department’s RI Policy?

Show it to your principal and ask them to use this new department process to update their religious instruction records to ensure that all parents make informed decisions. It’s not too much to ask, in fact it is necessary to ensure compliance with the Education Act and RI policy.

You can find the original template (under the heading: ‘Forms’) here:

Religious instruction policy statement

 

 

Access Ministries: Scope and Sequence

Make an informed choice about your child’s participation in Religious Instruction in school.

Do the Religious Instruction providers at your child’s school use an Access Ministries program?  The link below is to a pdf document that outlines the ‘Scope and Sequence’ of the program.

Access Ministries: Green Series, 2010.

For more information about Access Ministries’ Religious Instructions, read the report produced by the Department of Education and Training in February 2017:

Report on the Review of ACCESS Ministries’ Religious Instruction Materials, February 2017.

 

GodSpace: Themes, Overview and Aims

Make an informed decision about your child’s participation in Religious Instruction.

Are the Religious Instruction providers at your school using GodSpace?  The link below connects you to a pdf document that outlines the ‘Themes, Overview and Aims’ of the ‘Purple 2017’ edition of Godspace.

Godspace: Purple Edition, 2017.

For more information about the GodSpace program, read the report produced by the Department of Education and Training in March, 2017:

Report on the Review of GodSpace Religious Instruction Materials

 

Connect Reviewers: Comments and Concerns

If you have read the Connect review, you will know that the reviewers were described as-
‘A mix of staff with substantial knowledge and experience in teaching, curriculum development, government policy and administration, and departmental policies and procedures including in the areas of RI, student wellbeing, inclusive education, and safe and supportive school communities undertook the review with oversight by an Executive Director.
The reviewers held qualifications in primary and secondary teaching, psychology, social sciences and governance and public policy.’

We have obtained their working notes and made a list of their comments/concerns to specific lessons in Connect.  The full list is below:

 


 

“Is about the domino effect of sinning. Examples are given of sinners and how this then led to babies dying, unhappiness, etc. Would some students then blame themselves for bad things that happen to family and friends and that are then outside their control.”

“Servant, death as consequence of sin, rape, killed, murder, assassination.”

“Concern about this may impact on students’ emotional health and may cause discomfort/upset of students. i.e. a mother left her own child to a stranger.”

“Could be discomforting for some students – to live our own way is considered as sinful and this could lead to punishment.”

“The game instructed in a way to demonstrate consequences if people don’t obey God.The example given may be too confronting for students who had a rough day at home or living in foster homes.”

“Concern about description of God sent his son Jesus to die and come back alive. Younger students who do not have the Christian background may try to understand this as biological parent and son relationship.”

“Pictures in colours that shows Jesus on cross – may cause discomfort for some students.”

“Concern about putting students into groups that being labelled as good and bad, strong and weak, with direct examples about what would bad/strong groups do to other groups.”

“It is unclear if Bible background will be discussed at lessons, they include references to unsafe behaviours e.g. murder, rape, types of suffering.”

“Explicit description about unsafe and violent behaviours.”

“Not sure how students would cope if example is mentioned in lesson.”

“Concern about words “assassination after assassination” and “desired to kill” in these Bible backgrounds.”

“Students are encouraged to show they are followers of Jesus – could be encouraging them to share with classmates who are not in the RI class.”

“May be the first time a 7 year old has seen this – could be confronting.”

“Not the role of the RI instructor to deal with a student or families personal issues during the RI lesson.”

“Need to provide the context of the role of a servant in Biblical times – difference between servant and slave.”

“Some students may feel pressured into adding their name to the ‘Followers of Jesus’ list. Some students may be concerned about the consequences of not putting their name on the list.”

“RI instructor should understand that this lesson would not be delivered as a whole of school assembly.”

“Warning of how we are not to respond to God.”

“Whether it was right or wrong for the disciple to cut off the servant of the high priest’s ear.”

“Trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection and not in ourselves.”

“Rescue us from our sins.”

“Sins & judgement/curses.”

“Warning re judgement about lack of trust in God.”

“We need rescuing from Sin/sacrifice.”

“Is this Okay? – Implied that if you want to live with God as your king you should/must attend church or local kid’s club.”

“Teachers/Instructors told to emphasis events are historical and true, that God is contol over everything including us in the present.”

“Not about changing a student’s belief but a powerful message for a 7-9 year old that we need rescuing from sin.”

“Thoughts of getting rid of someone centre on breaking the law or causing harm in most peoples thinking?”

“What would a pretend sacrifice be? Why is this necessary to demonstrate to students. It may promote students to replicate.”

“Consider allergies such as peanuts in chocolates which could be life threatening.”

“Sacrifice, death is a consequence of sin, sin”

“Killing, devil, pgs 146, 148, 153 (re. spreading the word), people wondering if being blind is a punishment from God, hate.”

“Death is inevitable, regardless of sin or not.”

“Strong emphasis on sin, without a clear understanding of what sin actually is (outside of not loving God’s way).”

“The concept of thinking of ways to kill someone is inappropriate.”

“Graphic details of injuries sustained during death.”

“Previous lessons focused on how horrible it is to sin, then the lesson goes on to say that everyone sins- this message could be confusing for students.”

“This is not a good example of what is not a commandment.”

“This is not the only definition of joyful.”

“Encourages students to make choices outside of the Smart Choices strategy.”

“At the centre of this lesson is the hatred between two groups of people.”

“This is putting the focus on what a person with disability cannot do.”

“This activity is based on the assumption that all students have ‘healthy legs’.”

“Being blind should not be mentioned as a punishment, nor should it be mentioned it was because his parents did something wrong.”

“Is it appropriate to make a man with leprosy?”

“This concept may too mature for students in the lower primary.”

“Message of killing.”

“This may contradict lawful activity.”

“Students interpretation of sin may be very different and this question could raise potentially contentious issues.”

“The actual definition of faith is not what is defined in the response section.”

“Are references to the devil and dirt talk appropriate?”

“It should be made clear that schools may have different policies and procedures for managing student discipline. Teachers must adhere to the schools disciplinary measures.”

“Taking away child choice.”

“Could be taken very literally- maybe not appropriate for a whole school assembly.”

“Concern that children will self-blame for others’ actions; particularly in relation to family breakups.”

“Not sure if this is appropriate for students who have social and emotional difficulties.”

“This could be taken literally and misinterpreted.”

“With no other information this encourages a very literal interpretation of aspects which can lead to student exclusion.”

“Not appropriate discussion of student needs. Privileges intelligence.”

“Clear delineation of RI instructors boundaries need to be given here- would discipline be the Classroom Teacher’s responsibility?”

“Use of animal sacrifices, killing, chopping ear, death.”

“As per their own words: “this lesson may bring up issues surrounding sickness and death””

“Asking children to sit on the paddle-pop-stick chair – which will break. Is it safe?”

“Too violent.”

“Too violent.”

“Too violent.”

“Looks like a threat.”

“Children should be equal – no privileges for anyone.”

“Two wives? (and possible incest).”

“Sin, to enter uninvited or unclean in the presence of God was punishable by death, sacrificial system in final chapters of Exodus, prostitute, devil, everyone deserves the punishment of god as we have all sinned, evil.”

“Punishing the king and all of Egypt, killing the first born.”

“Should be using the language of correction more in line with school’s policy.”

“Murder, rape, incest, adultery, Satan, animal sacrifices, barren women.”

“Sin, death, punishment, killing and sacrificing animals; God sent 10 plagues; slavery.”

“Will students blame themselves for bad things happening around them?”

“Is this a risk to wellbeing for students whose lives aren’t good?”

“Sentenced to death, nailed to the cross.”

“One potential wellbeing concern could be linked to the nature of the content/context – how is a student’s emotional and psychological health considered if – The student has a very close friend who has separate/alternative/no faith beliefs – – given the student can securely believe they will have ‘eternal life’, however, because of what they have learned their best friend will not?”

“The course material does not have synergy with DET policy in a number of areas including:

  • Safe and Supportive schools (eg causing harm to self and others; not inciting people to break the law) Delivery
  • The material is developed and published by a religious group designed for a contextual faith based delivery.
  • The Teacher’s Manual is written in language appropriate for teachers. The question that arises is ‘how’ the presenter/deliverer actually presents the material to the students-Do they adapt the language to the level of the students or use the Teacher’s Manual words as a ‘script’. In either case teaching and clarifying contextual literacy will be required as the supporting concepts are often ‘biblical text’ and references.
  • Teaching techniques and hints – identifies the ‘evidence board'”

“The representation and nature of ‘evidence’ in the material in reference to the ‘evidence board’ is vastly different than the DET curriculum interpretation of what evidence is. This could very likely cause confusion when students are ‘providing evidence’ for curriculum assignments and assessment. Particularly what does and does not represent ‘evidence’.”

“Negative terms, such as references to this world as “fallen”.”

“Bringing life into the world would mean suffering”.”

“The use of word “special!’ should be avoided as it has different connotations and undertones in terms of its association to disability.”

“The use of negative concepts such as killing, angry, and judging other’s attitude to be bad.”

“The language and the activity are not appropriate for teaching. It has the potential to cause psychological harm and effect students’ emotional and health wellbeing.”

“This activity is teaching violence to students.”

“This type of activity should be avoided. It has the potential to upset some students and cause psychological harm.”

“Including this type of activity which relates to teaching students about leprosy which can be a quite debilitating condition, is questionable. This can have an emotional and psychological impact on students.”

“What does “doomed” mean?… this type of activity has the potential to cause students emotional and psychological harm.”

“This question/possible response appear to be soliciting students through its focus on providing students with information about how to become a Christian.”

“Religion and faith language appears to be mixed-up in the manual. Use of “us” and “we” throughout the manual has the potential to be seen to influence a student’s thinking beyond instruction.”

“Lesson Aims and outcomes – these sections in the manual seems to focus around ensuring that students’ thinking as well as practice is moulded in some way. It may be just the use of language which can have unintended impact/influence on a student’s thinking. Teacher reflections sections appear to have a similar language focus. Distinction between preaching and teaching may need to be considered in any future updates to the Manual.”

“Language of rejection can be psychologically harmful to students.”

“The use of evil thoughts, loss of relationship and trust are questionable in terms of their negative impact on a student’s emotional and psychological health if used in the instruction. It can be upsetting to students who may be experiencing life difficulties and they relate this to their own circumstances.”

“The language used in questionable in the context of religious teaching, especially how it gets interpreted by a student in their own context and circumstance.”

“Acknowledging that this is written in the background but if used by a teacher in their teaching to students, it has the potential to emotionally and psychologically harm students.”

“This encourages the teacher to share this text to the students which appears to have the potential to emotionally upset harm the students.”

“Reference to someone not having a lot of friends can be upsetting for some students. References to death and removal of the picture from the frame can be upsetting for some students.”

“Asking students to write their own prayer of trust in God, using their own practical examples can emotionally upset some students who may be experiencing difficulties in life generally.”

“References to words such as ugly can have psychological impact on students with body image issues.”

“The focus of this prayer does not align to the inclusivity concept.”

“Punishment and exclusion do not comply with the inclusive nature of school education.”

“Includes things like knife, handcuffs and other weapons which are associated to violence.”

“Condescending language.”

“The activities on this page have extensive references to death.”

 

 

 

 

 

Law and Religious Instruction Policy No Barrier to RI Providers

The following newsletter, dated 12 April 2016, was downloaded from this page. Until recently, it was downloadable from the link titled ‘RI in schools.docx’. We downloaded it ourselves on 10 September 2016.

The newsletter is attributed to Fiona Cran, a member of the Religious Instruction Quality Assurance (RIQA) Task Group – the people who are supposed to ‘oversee the quality of RI’.

We have highlighted  – in red – parts of the newsletter that are of particular concern to us.

It is becoming true of us as it was in Jesus day that in John 15:20 Jesus tells his followers that if they persecuted him they will persecute you who follow. Whilst in Australia we still have huge freedoms, there are groups increasingly working towards eradicating them and looking for reasons to do so. 2 Corinthians 6:3 says “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.”So far I see three groups seeking to remove RI from state schools [though their attack is only aimed at Christians not Islam, Buddhist or Bhai from what I see]. They are:

  • FIRIS (Fairness in religion in state schools)
  • QPSS (Qld Parents for secular schools)
  • The Rationalist Movement

They are currently working a campaign in Qld to discredit CRI and to whip up media reports (often inaccurate) to encourage parents to complain and have it removed from schools. Some of you may have already seen some of the reporting. They are also lobbying politicians and others to ensure their voice is heard.I have attached some information that demonstrates the need to ensure we do not give any stumbling block to the CRI ministry in schools. More than ever it is important to do the following if we are to keep ourselves in a strong position.

  1. Follow legislation and regulation! to the letter! 

Read carefully again:http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/school-operations/ri-policy-statement.html

  • Do not give anyone any reason to complain because you called CRI, RE or yourself teacher rather than an instructor.
  • Ensure your school has an opt in policy for CRI which is per law. If you have been getting away with it so far it has been a blessing but it can be used against you. Speak to your principal about doing opt in.
  • Ensure no evangelistic language is being used at school or in public places or in public literature.
  1. Pray! Pray and pray! 

Pray for your school, staff, families, CRI team, RIQA and your reps on RIQA [ myself, Carole Danby, Jonathon Sergeant, and others]. Pray for continued support from Bevan Brennan [ deputy director general of Qld Education] who is supportive of RI. 

  1. Be a voice for good!

I have been asking parents who love CRI to write to their principal, politician and Qld Education letting them know how great CRI is and how it benefits their family. If we can generate positive feedback it will balance the negative that is happening and help the government to see that it is only a vocal minority that does not value CRI. Get on your schools P and C or ask other Christians to join the schools P and C. This is where the conversations happen and decisions are made. FIRIS and QPSS are also trying their hardest to get onto P and C’s.

  1. Training

Make sure everyone has attended training and does so on a regular basis. One of the huge complaints against Victoria was that many had not done any training. . Do not run student protection training or issue certificates in it as we are not allowed to and this can be used against us. There are trainers willing to travel and run training for you (contact me for a list of trainers)On the advice of others who have trodden this road already, be careful about engaging with anti CRI groups who may twist your words for their end. It can be discouraging to be under fire but it will allow us the opportunity to shine brighter. God is for us, who can be against us? We just need to ensure we are shining bright and making sure what we do, we do really well. I know that the vast majority of us do a great job of CRI and kids love our lessons. It is really only the odd occasion when someone does the wrong thing in CRI that it creates a slur on the program. If you have situations that are not honouring to God or to the profile of CRI make sure you address them quickly. CRI is not the ministry for everyone and personally I believe it is better not to have a class covered than the wrong person involved.

Media Release: State School Parents left in the dark

As students return to school this week, parents are still in the dark about the contents of the controversial Religious Instruction program delivered in Queensland Government State Schools.

One of the recommendations resulting from the Education department’s own 2016 review of ‘Connect’ Religious Instruction materials was that parents be given more detail about program contents to enable them to make an informed choice about whether their children participate in the program.

Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools, a grassroots parent organisation that has been advocating for the change, says they have seen little to indicate the Department is seriously addressing the recommendation.

Spokesperson for QPSSS, Alison Courtice, says little to no information is provided to parents by schools at the time that they are asked to indicate whether they wish for their child to participate in the class and it seems that nothing much has changed for 2017. “Parents are shocked to later discover their child has been exposed to content that has a strong ‘sin and salvation’ message,” she said.

“Parents deserve to be able to make an informed choice about their child’s participation in Religious Instruction.”

Media Release: “Very Minor Changes” to Controversial ‘Connect’ Program

Publishers of the controversial ‘Connect’ Religious Instruction materials have indicated that few changes will be made to the program.

A 2016 review by the Queensland Education Department found the ‘Connect’ materials contained age-inappropriate references to violence, animal sacrifice and child grooming.

Christian Education Publishing produce the ‘Connect’ materials that are used widely during ‘Religious Instruction’ classes at Queensland Government State Schools.

Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools spokesperson, Alison Courtice, said CEP had indicated that any changes in response to the review would be only “very minor.”

‘Connect’ made headlines last year when it was revealed it contained activities such as having children reenact a beheading and having volunteer instructors show children that bleach could ‘wash away’ sin.

CEP were still selling some superseded materials for use in 2017 in December last year.

It is not clear whether the Education Department will vet the materials or ensure CEP comply with the review’s findings.

CEP have indicated they would publish the changes on their website but have not yet done so.