Secondary Religious Education Curriculum Review

The Secondary Religious Education Curriculum has been undergoing a review of its focus and content for the past four years. This has been in consultation with Secondary Religious Education Coordinators and Religious Education teachers from across the Archdiocese, and also from other dioceses, who also use this Religious Education Curriculum. The review has also been supported by many academics from the Australian Catholic University, The Catholic Institute of Sydney and The University of Notre Dame Australia.

In 2014, teachers from across the Sydney Archdiocese began working with the draft curriculum documents. Support was provided in the form of 10 professional development days, as teachers gained access to the revised content and then developed programs and learning experiences for their students. Teachers across all secondary schools began implementing the revised draft documents in 2014 with students in year 7, and in 2015 with their year 8 students. The feedback to date has been extremely positive as both students and teachers have found the revised units of work to be engaging and relevant to contemporary student needs. Review and editing of the stage 4 documents is continuing in 2015.

The focus for this year is the development of the revised units of work for stage 5, specifically the Year 9 units of work. Two professional development days have been delivered this year to introduce and support secondary religious education teachers. Another three days are planned across the next three terms.

The most recent professional development day was held on Monday 27th April, attended by 45 teachers and Religious Education Coordinators representing the Sydney, Lismore and Wollongong dioceses. Mr Anthony Cleary, Director of Religious Education and Evangelisation, began the day by providing the teachers with an overview of the revised unit of work, outlining some of the content and ideas that they would be developing for their students. Anthony was followed by Dr Dermot Nestor, Head of Theology at ACU, who challenged the teachers in how they would approach this unit, including how they would view the rich common heritage of the Catholic Church, as well as the diverse contemporary experience of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Mr Stephen Reid from the Pastoral Research Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, addressed the group informing them of the work of the Pastoral Research Office, as well as the many useful documents that are available on their website. The parish social profiles provide valuable information regarding the number of Catholics who make up each parish and diocese. Stephen was able to guide the teachers through these documents and provide great insights into how the documents could be used with their students.

In the afternoon session, Letitia Leyton, REC at OLMC, Burraneer gave further insights into the B9 Support Document, as she guided the teachers through a possible lesson sequence that built upon the data of the Pastoral Research Office.

Teachers generally found the day to be relevant and useful to their needs as they prepare to work with this document. Some of the evaluation comments:

I really liked the way the new program ‘Church in Australia’ was constantly referred to and I was able to write all over the program with great teaching ideas….. I especially liked the diverse nature of the church section and how to analyse data from various Parishes….. thank you – it was brilliant.

Thank you to everyone for making it a highly worthwhile and informative day. The structure worked well and information shared with the participants was valuable. I did not know anything about the Pastoral Research Office before the day, so it was very insightful to see how well it can be used in the classroom.

The next Stage 5 Professional Development Day will will be held on Monday 15th June at The Catholic Institute of Sydney (99 Albert Rd Strathfield) from 8.30am to 3.30pm, focusing on ‘C9- Search for Meaning’.

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