Pause for Parramatta RE Curriculum
An immediate pause of the draft new curriculum for religious education in the Diocese of Parramatta has been met with reactions including surprise, gratitude and some frustration.
On 20 July Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM wrote to parish priests and school principals informing them that he had asked the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby to pause the engagement and implementation of the draft new curriculum.
The rollout of the new curriculum Living Life to the Full was paused following “significant interest and feedback, including from the Church, community and experts in religious education, Scripture and theology” Bishop Long wrote.
“I anticipate many of you will be surprised and disappointed with this news.
“I am deeply thankful for the time and effort of so many committed and faith-filled people in bringing this important work to life.
“We will now take the time needed to consider all the feedback we have received before determining the next steps.
“This is all about sharing our Catholic faith with the next generation.
“Forming the young in the way of Jesus is at the heart of our endeavour.”
In a letter to families and staff Mr Whitby said that Year 11 and 12 students would not be disadvantaged by the decision.
“I understand that this news comes at a time when all of us are fully focused on meeting students during this period of remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“Please be assured that this is being carefully considered in our support of schools.”
A number of education professionals working in Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta who did not wish to be named expressed concerns to The Catholic Weekly about the draft curriculum and the sudden pause.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion at the moment and there are teachers who feel that maybe there’s been a lack of transparency about the rationale for pausing the curriculum and the rationale for the curriculum itself,” one said.
“For a lot of people there was a sense that something was ‘off’ about it and over the last couple of years there’s clearly been some pushback from parents and the clergy about it.
“There is also a sense that parents sending their children to a Catholic school send them because they want them to be catechised, and I think those producing the curriculum lost sight a bit of that.”
Another teacher told The Catholic Weekly she felt some of the units including on relationships and other religions would have been a challenge to navigate “from a proper Catholic teaching perspective”, while a parent in the Diocese welcomed Bishop Long’s responsiveness to concerns about the course.