Here in FIRIS-land we appreciate the lengths the Department of Education has gone to in handing greater autonomy to principals when it comes to making decisions about SRI, even if UJEB and ACCESS Ministries believe that principals are there to serve SRI providers and not students.
Because of Ministerial Direction 141 (MD141) principals now bear full responsibility for the decision to approve SRI.
If you’ve been paying attention you will know that principals can reject SRI if the school cannot meet the various resource requirements. Some scenarios are clearly spelled out in Clause 6(7) of MD141.
But tellingly, principals must ensure that information, ideas, opinions or beliefs communicated to students and written material distributed to students must not contradict the school’s values, curriculum, an applicable law, or Department policies or guidelines (Clause 10(1)).
What this means in practice is that every principal who approves ACCESS Ministries to conduct SRI at their school is saying that there is no contradiction between ACCESS Ministries’ material and the approved school curriculum, the school’s values, or DEECD policies or guidelines.
This might include ideas such as biological evolution instead of creationism; inclusiveness instead of religious segregation; or ACCESS’ frequently-violated agreement with the DEECD not to proselytise. Or ACCESS volunteers’ contractual agreement not to present statements of belief as fact, an agreement that ACCESS Ministries’ “Religion in Life” SRI materials forces volunteers to contravene, to date with zero Departmental consequences except more annual grants to carry out more transgressions.
FIRIS would like to thank the Department of Education because when we showed you the two independent reviews of ACCESS Ministries curriculum, you listened.
When we showed you that the ACCESS Ministries material is “low level busy work” you heard. When we told you that there is already sufficient “values” education in AusVELS you made sure that any reasonable principal could reject SRI.
Indeed, many such reasonable principals have now exercised their educational judgment and professionalism to put their students first, and have canned SRI.
So what’s the principal’s excuse if they haven’t?