FIRIS has released reviews of the curriculum that is used in 96% of “Special Religious Instruction” programs running in Victoria – and also used in New Zealand by the CEC. FIRIS was unable to obtain curriculum used by Jewish or Muslim, or other groups but since these groups only present programs in a small fraction of schools, these reviews basically deals with the entire “SRI” program in Victoria. This curriculum is called “the agreed syllabus” or, by its official title, “Religion in Life”.
Two senior academics in the educational field provided reports in regard to the pedagogical suitability of the material used by ACCESS Ministries. You can obtain those reports here (you can also read them in this web-page at the bottom of this page HERE):
- Professor Marion Maddox (Maquire University, UNSW) Theological Review of Religion in Life:
According to Professor Marion Maddox , ACCESS Ministries “Religion in Life” material is “significantly at odds with public schools’ important values such as welcoming and valuing people regardless of their religious or other identity… In each case, the lessons emphasise acceptance of others—as long as they are Christians.”.
Professor Maddox also agrees that ACCESS Ministries material may “lead to significant conflicts and confusion for children”. She also believes that “valuable class time can be consumed as professional teachers try to untangle the educational amateurs’ effects and restore students’ regard for the mandated curriculum”.
Prof. Maddox is also the author of an extraordinary book titled “Taking God to School ” which “uncovers the surprising impact of these groups on once secular public schooling, and the ways in which governments have been persuaded to support their cause”. In May 2014, former Federal Education Minister Peter Garrett wrote a review of the book under the title “Free, cumpulsory, and secular” in which he confirms (as former Education Minister) that Maddox’s claims that the line between supporting and converting children had been “too easily crossed”. You can also hear an ABC interview with Prof. Maddox on the book “God in the classroom”.
- Dr. David Zyngier (Monash University, VIC) evaluation of Religion in Life for alignment with Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS):
Dr. David Zyngier believes that students attending ACCESS Ministries SRI sessions “are not being challenged to think independently as the vast majority of student tasks are based on what we in the profession call busy work.”
These reviews are self explanatory but they address the fact that there are no standards or educational objectives, that the curriculum conflicts with the stated commitment to not proselytise, and presents an irrefutable argument that schools should remove SRI from the curriculum if they are committed to quality education. Among other points, those reports from academic experts have found that:
- students are not being challenged to think independently as the vast majority of tasks are based on what we in the profession call “busy work”;
- delivery does not appear to support clear sequencing, clear descriptions and demonstrations of skills to be acquired;
- student activities are not followed by practice and timely feedback – the essence of good pedagogical practice which should focus initially on high levels of teacher involvement;
- teaching materials do not support the VELS (Victoria Essential Learning Standards) nor do they reflect the recommended Victorian teaching and learning principles (POLTs);
- little evidence that CRE curriculum supports intellectual quality of learning recommended by the DEECD framework of what constitutes high quality teaching and learning practice in the classroom;
- activities minimise student intellectual growth, provide no scaffolding support to guide students through the learning process as there are no explicit or clear statements about the purpose or rationale for the learning;
- material may lead to significant conflicts and confusion for children;
- valuable class time can be consumed as professional teachers try to untangle the educational amateurs’ effects and restore students’ regard for the mandated curriculum.
You can get even more information on the CRE curriculum HERE
What can I do with these reviews? How can I used them?
We would like you to submit these materials to your school council – and tell us about what happens… This is a grassroots campaign and this is a grassroots action that we are asking you to take. We must bring this issue up one school at a time – and the only people who can do this are parents in these schools (i.e. YOU)
FIRIS has asked leading experts in Australia to provide these documents to support families … how they are used is up to YOU.
These materials give you the evidence you need to support the case that SRI should not be in your school. It will take effort on your part … but if you are wondering what YOU can do … wonder no more.
If you have any questions email us firstname.lastname@example.org – our campaign team is happy to provide tailored support for your school – but the front line in this campaign, is you and our success depends on you, preparing these documents and getting them into your school council for action.
We propose the following:
- Make a copy of our template letter to school council, edit it into a letter for your specific school council and have other parents sign it. You can find template letters here
- Carefully study the points raised in the reviews – these are the key points you’ll need to press in your council.
- Print multiple copies of the attached reviews at a copy shop and provide them along with the letter to your school council.
- Ask to attend the next school council meeting to speak to the proposed motion.
- Keep FIRIS informed of your progress.
Read inline or download the two expert reviews here:
You may want to ZOOM IN once for better reading, or directly download it for reading offline; see Download link at the bottom of each report.
Prof. Maddox’s review:
David Zyngier’s review: