More schools opt out of religious education classes

Koroit and District, Woodford and Warrnambool primary schools will not continue with  special religious instruction lessons.
Koroit and District, Woodford and Warrnambool primary schools will not continue with special religious instruction lessons.

AT least three more district schools have dropped religious instruction programs.

Allansford Primary School was believed to be the first school in Victoria to scrap the classes following a ministerial directive in May and other south-west schools have received a mixed response to the opt-in classes.

After the directive, all schools running the special religious instruction (SRI) lessons were required to obtain new consent forms from parents before the start of term three.  Previously the SRI was an opt-out program.

Warrnambool Primary School principal Peter Auchettl said the lessons were not continuing, but classroom teachers would administer a values program weekly.

“A greater percentage of parents said no or haven’t returned the forms,” he said.

“Therefore, there wasn’t enough participants to be able to run the program. At the end of the day, the school community has made the decision.

“We will be extending our current values program called You Can Do It which will be timetabled for weekly sessions.” 

Koroit and District and Woodford primary schools also didn’t have enough opt-in responses to continue.

Koroit principal Michelle Bickley-Miller said the school extended the program to grade one and two pupils with eight opting in out of 42.

It will be offered again at the start of the 2015 school year.

Woodford principal Daniel Watson said there was nowhere near enough affirmative responses to the consent form.

Out of 174 pupils, 50 opted in to be apart of the program.

At Warrnambool West Primary School the program will continue. Compared to other south-west schools, Warrnambool West had a markedly higher number of participants.

Principal Linda Mooseek said five notices were sent to parents and they were asked again at parent-teacher interviews.

Of the 141 pupils, 66 will participate in the weekly half-hour lessons. The SRI teacher is an ACCESS ministries volunteer and pupils who are not involved will complete separate lessons with their classroom teacher.

Camperdown College is continuing the classes with a revised timetable.

Principal Cherie Kilpatrick said some families had decided to continue the program while others had not. The classes are offered from prep to year four and 53 pupils will be involved.

Mortlake P-12 College principal Graeme Good said the school had received a “reasonable” number of responses to the consent form and a decision will be made whether to continue the classes at a school council meeting next week.

Cobden Primary School is still collating the consent forms, with lessons not scheduled.

Business manager Kerry McGlade said the school was waiting on a final tally, but was hopeful the program would continue in term three.

Warrnambool East Primary School principal Lindy Sharp said the program was not offered at the school, however it had run it in the past.

Port Fairy Consolidated Primary School principal Mark Chapman previously told The Standard the school had not received enough interest to run classes and struggled to find instructors.

Terang College and Merrivale Primary School did not return calls for comment.


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