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.”
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CEP were still selling some superseded materials for use in 2017 in December last year.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.
We thank the Queensland Department of Education for undertaking a review of the Connect program. Having read the report, we have a number of issues we would like to clarify and would greatly appreciate the department’s consideration and response to the following. Continue reading
While we are still digesting the content of the review and its implications, we are grateful to the Minister for Education, Kate Jones, for initiating this important review and to those who conducted the work. There is much to address and we still await the concrete policy responses to the recommendations.