Religious instruction policies will not be altered, despite
some schools making changes after complaints from parents,
the Ministry of Education says.
Parents at four schools in Auckland and Palmerston North have
raised concerns about Christian Religious Instruction (CRI)
being taught and three of those schools have since made
changes to their classes.
However, ministry spokeswoman Katrina Casey said there were
no plans to change any policy around religious instruction in
"Schools in New Zealand are self-governing and have the
freedom to deliver the curriculum in a way that best meets
the needs of their students, in consultation with their wider
The ministry had received nine complaints from parents or
other individuals about religious education between 2006 and
2013, Ms Casey said.
She acknowledged the ministry may not have been notified
about other concerns.
"If parents have a complaint they should talk to the
principal in the first instance and then, if not satisfied,
raise the matter with the board of trustees.
"We would encourage any parent to try to resolve any issues
with the school and board of trustees before taking further
Schools involved in the complaints held religious classes
during teaching hours. Pupils' parents had to choose to opt
out their child if they did not want them to attend.
The Secular Education Network, which is opposed to Christian
teaching during schooltime, said that meant children who did
not go to the lessons would feel ostracised from their
Those children were also often offered "meaningless
activities" during the classes, the group's spokesman David
Earlier this year two Auckland parents complained to the
Human Rights Commission about St Heliers School offering the
classes. A third parent lodged a formal complaint with the
Mr Hines said since then parents with children at Auckland's
Glendowie School, Palmerston North's Milson School and
another Palmerston North school, which has not been named,
had complained to school leaders about the classes.
The Churches Education Commission supplied teachers to the
schools at the centre of the complaints.
Chief executive Simon Greening said boards of trustees needed
to follow a "fair and democratic process" when dealing with
the future of the classes.
"We do not want to be in schools where our Christian values
classes are not welcomed," he said.
"But on the other hand, we believe it is undemocratic and a
loss to Kiwi kids if our classes are closed without a fair
Changes made by the schools
* St Heliers School - moved CRI classes to outside school
* Milson School - moved CRI classes to outside school hours;
* Glendowie School - offering more research options, such as
use of library computers, for students not attending the
* Unnamed Palmerston North school - consultation between
board and complainant later this month.