THE re-enactment of the birth of Christ and the singing of Christmas carols may soon fall quiet in the corridors of public schools throughout the state, with the Victorian Government releasing their new detailed guidelines for special religious instruction (SRI).
The guidelines, which will see certain religious programs scrapped from mainstream teaching this year, state that government schools must not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect, and must be open to adherents of any philosophy, religion or faith.
As part of this, any group seeking to facilitate, lead or provide instruction in programs that are based on distinctive religious tenets and beliefs must conduct the teachings either during lunch time or out-of-school hours, where this is provided by the school and supervised by school staff.
Many schools throughout Greater Shepparton hold annual Christmas concerts, but according to the new guidelines carols including O Holy Night, We Three Kings and Away in a Manger will no longer be able to be taught during school hours as they welcome the birth of Jesus Christ and promote Christianity.
Bourchier Street Primary School is one local school that has been carrying on their Christmas tradition of a Christmas concert for their students for more than 20 years, and while the guidelines suggest that certain praise music (Christmas carols) are not to be included in the teachings, the school has always offered a holistic inclusion of all religions in their Christmas celebrations.
Bourchier Street Primary School Principal, Judith Park said, “While we will be following these suggested guidelines, traditions are important to the school.
“We respect the diversity that our community brings and will be continuing our tradition in Wesley Church as we have done for the last 23 years and we will continue our inclusive teachings of carols.”