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Numbers of kids in Scripture classes swell

After taking a severe hit in Victoria last year, Christian Scripture enrolments are on the rise

In 2017 more students in state schools will hear Bible stories than in 2016.

Teaching “Scripture” in classrooms, known as Special Religious Education in NSW, Special Religious Instruction in Victoria and Religious Instruction in Queensland, is on the increase.

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“Its definitely growing,” says Karen Grenning of the Queensland-based Christian Religious Instruction Network (CRIN).

“There’s more Scripture in more schools every year and more students involved,” says James Flavin, CEO of NSW-based Generate Ministries. “We have had double digit growth in the last three or four years.”

…a majority of primary state school students in NSW attend Scripture.

But Scripture is a bit like Rugby League, much more powerful in the northern states of NSW and Queensland.

In both Queensland and NSW more than 70 per cent of students opt in to Christian RI in schools where it is available.

One astonishing statistic is that if you add Jewish and Islamic numbers, a majority of primary state school students in NSW attend Scripture.

Scripture teaching is becoming increasingly professional with part time paid staff providing it.

In the past five years, the number of NSW high schools with a paid SRE teacher has increased from 140 (2011) to 237 (2016). Like Scripture teaching in general, this is a grassroots exercise. “Local schools and local churches working together to hire locally,” is how Flavin puts it.

“[In Victoria], schools are welcoming the new programme, which provides a safe place for students at lunchtime.” – Dawn Penney

This school term, teams linked to Generate Ministries are looking for an extra 20 teachers. A degree in teaching or theology is a prerequisite – the standards for scripture teaching are on the rise.

Again like Rugby League, Scripture is making inroads in Victoria. After a precipitous decline in student numbers after the programme was moved out of classroom hours, this week several hundred instructors are doing refresher courses, responding to demand for the course at local schools.

“Feedback is that schools are welcoming the new programme, which provides a safe place for students at lunchtime,” Dawn Penney, CEO of ACCESS ministries tells Eternity.

Some 2500 students took part last year, a number that will increase in 2017.

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