Victorian law says schools are powerless to stop an accredited religious instructor holding classes during the school day.

MULTI-faith primary schools are forced to hold Christian religious classes, even if the school doesn’t want them, the Herald Sun can reveal.

Victorian law says schools are powerless to stop an accredited religious instructor holding classes during the school day.

Parents might choose not to have their children attend, but the school council and school principal must offer classes if approached by an approved provider, an Education Department spokeswoman said.

At Ormond Primary a local Anglican priest, the Reverend Kevin Pedersen, has gained access to the school to teach weekly 30-minute classes to the younger students, despite not being invited initially by the principal or the school council.

So far, only 33 out of 180 students from prep, grades 1 and 2 have elected to take the classes at the multicultural school.

A letter to parents from Ormond principal Glenn Butler, seen by theĀ Herald Sun, said the decision to introduce the classes was not initiated by the school, nor was the endorsement of school council sought.

It says the school council does not have the authority to decide whether the program takes place.

Cathy Wever, mother of a grade 1 pupil, said the classes forced parents to lay out our religious beliefs in public by asking children to opt in or opt out.

“This is a very multi-faith school, and we do not want to divide children on the basis of religion,” she said.

Debra Dalidakis said her family was Jewish and chose Ormond Primary because there were no religious instruction classes.

“We do not want our daughter to be separated from her classmates,” she said.

Mr Pedersen, from the Ormond Anglican Church, said he approached the school 18 months ago and had a good relationship with the school.

There is a growing backlash against religious instruction in schools, with a case before VCAT challenging the law on the ground of discrimination.

Ormond principal Mr Butler said the program met the legislative requirements.

 

 

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