Agenda item

Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) Annual Report

Report by the Chairperson of the East Sussex SACRE


36.1     The report was introduced by the Chair of East Sussex SACRE. The Chair noted that SACRE was obliged to have an agreed syllabus for maintained schools which is revised every 5 years. A new syllabus had been developed in the last 12 months with training offered to teachers in primary and secondary schools on the content. The Chair noted that take up of training had been good and that most schools were adopting the syllabus, including academies who were doing so voluntarily.

36.2     There was ongoing work with schools, including special schools, and visits would be resuming in the Spring.

36.3     The Chair of East Sussex SACRE noted that the SACRE budget, which was historically increased in years when the development of a new syllabus was required, was set to return to its original budget next year and that he would like to seek a continued increase in the budget to fund activities including a teacher and student conference. 

36.4     The Committee welcomed the update and discussed the report. This covered:

·         Collective Worship – the Committee asked if the review of determination procedures had taken place yet. The Chair of East Sussex SACRE confirmed that it had and confirmed that collective worship should be applied in all schools and should be of a broadly Christian nature. In areas where there were large populations of other religions, schools could ask for determination for collective workshop to have a different focus. The Chair confirmed that there had been no applications for this in East Sussex, but there was a policy in place for future potential requests.


The Committee asked about a parent’s right to withdraw their children from collective worship in schools and to what degree this was being exercised. The Senior Manager for Support and Intervention Standards and Learning Effectiveness Service noted that this was a local issue which head teachers of individual schools would consult on with parents and that therefore the County Council did not hold any data on this.


·         Diversity of SACRE membership – the Committee asked for an update on the work of SACRE to support diverse representation in its membership in order to reflect the wide range of beliefs across the county, including humanist groups. The Committee heard that SACRE members included councillors, the Church of England, other faiths and teachers offering different views. SACRE had previously included humanist, Muslim and Buddhist representatives, but these representatives had stepped down. Maintaining representation across the religious spectrum was challenging and was an ongoing activity. The Chair of SACRE noted that there was not currently a large local Sikh or Hindu community in East Sussex, but SACRE would welcome any involvement from these communities.


·         Future funding of SACRE – The Committee asked what steps SACRE was taking to increase funding. The Chair of SACRE responded that additional funding had been previously generated before the pandemic through a paid conference and that other options for funding were being explored. The Committee agreed that religious education in schools was very important, especially with the inclusion of a broader narrative around world religions and humanism. Officers from Children’s Services clarified that increased funding was provided to SACRE every five years to develop a revised syllabus, but otherwise the budget remained stable. The Director of Children’s Services agreed to look at the implications of holding the annual SACRE budget at £7,000 with current inflation pressures, and the potential impact on the running of SCARE, as part of the RPPR process, and to provide an update to the Committee on this during the RPPR process throughout the year. The department would also support SACRE with seeking external funding.



36.5     The Committee RESOLVED to note the work of SACRE in the implementation of the Local Agreed Syllabus, raising the profile and importance of religious education, and supporting East Sussex Schools with the delivering of high-quality teaching of Religious Education post Covid.


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