Venue: Bromley Civic Centre
Contact: Jo Partridge 020 8461 7694
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor David Jefferys, Hannah Arnold, Arvinder Nandra, Dr Omar Taha, Jan Thompson and Edlene Whitman.
Councillor Pierce gave prior notification that he would need to leave the meeting early due to other commitments. Councillor Onslow gave prior notification that he would be absent for consideration of items 5 to 10.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
COMPLIANCE OF THE GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION (GDPR)
No breaches of the GDPR were reported.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd July 2019 be confirmed as a correct record.
B) MATTERS ARISING
Minute 2: Apologies for absence and notification of substitute members
The Chairman informed Members that the vacant Church of England representative role had now been filled, and Reverend Rachel Archer was welcomed to the meeting.
In relation to additional teacher representatives, the LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education confirmed that a request had been included in the School Circular, but no responses had been received. In response to a question, the SACRE RE Advisor said that she had identified a primary teacher who attended the RE Network meetings that may be interested in joining the SACRE. It was noted that the teacher also worked in Special Educational Needs (SEN), which would provide a good addition to the skillset of the SACRE. The SACE RE Advisor also noted that she would discuss the possibility of identifying a secondary teacher representative with Mr Kings. ACTION: SACRE RE Advisor
Minute 5B: Matters arising
The LBB Head of School Standards advised Members that she would follow up with the LBB Director of Education, regarding whether there was a Consultative Advisory Committee through which the Ramadan Guide could be circulated. ACTION: LBB Head of School Standards
The SACRE RE Advisor informed Members that the Ramadan Guide was now available to view on the Bromley Education Matters website, and would be updated with the dates from 2020. In relation to the school calendar competition, it was suggested that the draft calendar could be circulated to all SACRE Members to allow the dates of religious festivals to be double-checked.
Minute 8: Relationships with schools
Members were advised that changes were being made to the programme of Councillor visits, and an update would be provided to the next meeting of the SACRE. ACTION: LBB Head of School Standards
Minute 9: Inter-faith competition
In response to a question, the LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education confirmed that the financial award to be received for funding the inter-faith calendar competition was £1,500. The competition had been included in the School Circular, and it was anticipated that there would be a greater uptake by schools this year.
Minute 10: SACRE Draft Action Plan
The SACRE RE Advisor informed Members that an introductory letter from the SACRE was included in the School Circular.
In relation to Minute 12: Any other business, a Member enquired if there was an update on the school that had proposed to drastically cut the curriculum time spent on RE. The Chairman said that currently, the school was not compliant with the Agreed Syllabus curriculum time given to RE. The SACRE RE Advisor noted that she had visited and spoken with the Head of Department at the school, and the curriculum had been planned around the time constraints. Documents had also been provided to the Head of Department at the beginning of October, for ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
The current SACRE Terms of Reference had been agreed in July 2018. At the SACRE meeting on the 3rd July 2019, it was suggested that the Terms of Reference should be reviewed.
A Member asked for clarification of the references made to ‘community’ and ‘county’ schools, in sections 1.1 and 1.4, and questioned whether sections 1.2 and 1.3 should be strengthened. The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education advised that community schools were those that were maintained by the Local Authority. The SACRE RE Advisor said that, in addition to advising and encouraging, the SACRE was required to report on the implementation of the collective worship requirements and Agreed Syllabus, and agreed that this should be made clear in the document.
In section 2.2, the SACRE RE Advisor suggested that reference should be made to the possibility of the Councillor representatives changing each year, whilst the time limit of four years for other Members should be removed. Members agreed, and noted that the long service of representatives on the SACRE was a benefit.
The Chairman advised that section 2.7 highlighted a live issue for the SACRE, in relation to monitoring attendance at meetings. It was suggested that a request could be included for those sending apologies to provide a substitute, where possible. A Member questioned if this was felt to be necessary. The SACRE RE Advisor responded that low attendance could stop the SACRE from making a quorate vote, and that representatives needed to be aware of their public duty. It was further suggested that if a Member resigned, they should be responsible for ensuring that a replacement was sought from their relevant nominating body, as this was not the duty of the SACRE. The Chairman noted that they were in the process of contacting those Members that had not attended a SACRE meeting recently, and had not sent apologies.
A Member considered that information on the procedure for if the Chairman and Vice-Chairman were both absent from the meeting should be included in the document, and clarification of whether at least one of them needed to be in attendance for the meeting to be quorate.
Following a discussion, SACRE Members agreed that:
- Section 1 – Terms of Reference be reduced down to fewer items.
- The term ‘Local Authority Maintained schools’ be used.
- The requirement to report on the implementation of the collective worship requirements and Agreed Syllabus be included.
- Section 2.2 to reference that Councillor representatives could change each year, and the time limit of four years for other Members be removed.
- Section 2.7 to request that any Member sending apologies provide a substitute, where possible.
- If a Member resigned, they were responsible for ensuring that a replacement was sought from their relevant nominating body.
- Clarification of the procedure if the Chairman and Vice-Chairman were both absent: that these roles could be elected for the duration of the meeting.
The amended SACRE Terms ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
At the summer meeting of the SACRE, Members were asked to communicate in their representative groups to look at the following sections of the SACRE Reporting and Evaluating Toolkit:
Group A members (representatives of other faiths and Christian denominations) were asked to focus on Section 5 – Contribution of SACRE to promoting cohesion across the community.
Group B members (representatives from the Church of England) were asked to focus on Section 3 – Collective worship.
Group C members (teachers) were asked to focus on Section 2 – The effectiveness of the locally agreed syllabus.
Group D members (Councillors) were asked to focus on Section 4 – Management of SACRE.
The Chairman thanked Members for sending their thoughts to the SACRE RE Advisor, and a summary was provided. The SACRE RE Advisor informed Members that the responses received had been incorporated into the document. They had been colour coded by ‘developing’, ‘established’ and ‘advanced’ criteria’s. Also included was a list of recommendations that had been added to the SACRE Action Plan.
Overall, most areas were light and dark green as they were considered to be ‘established’ or ‘advanced’. However there were two areas in ‘Section 5: Contribution of SACRE to promoting cohesion across the community’ listed as ‘developing’. The first of these was in relation to the membership of the SACRE, and the second was regarding how well the SACRE was linked to or consulted about Local Authority initiatives promoting community cohesion. The SACRE RE Advisor noted that initial discussion regarding these had already taken place. The membership of the SACRE had been discussed earlier in the meeting, and previously it had been suggested that a comment be included in the Annual Report, highlighting the links between the SACRE and the priorities of the Local Authority.
A SACRE Member enquired how Bromley SACRE’s self-evaluation compared to other boroughs. The SACRE RE Advisor said that it was good. Most other SACREs rated themselves as having areas that were mostly ‘established’ and some ‘developing’ – there was not a SACRE that had all areas marked as ‘established’. The SACRE RE Advisor noted that she was keen to look at the self-evaluation, and take forward these recommendations in the SACRE Action Plan, which was not common practice. The Chairman highlighted that at the NASACRE Conference and AGM, comments had been collected relating to how SACREs undertook their self-evaluations. The feedback had indicated that SACREs tended to be either very self-critical, marking themselves down, or very enthusiastic and marking themselves highly. Few SACREs were like Bromley, which seemed to lie in between the two extremes.
The SACRE RE Advisor noted that a tick box summary of the SACRE self-evaluation was usually included in the Annual Report. Following a brief discussion, it was agreed that that the new colour coded summary should be included instead, as it provided more detailed information.
Members had been provided with draft documents for the revised Bromley Agreed Syllabus, which included the proposed layout, introduction, and sections titled ‘Why Teach RE’ and ‘What is effective RE’.
The SACRE RE Advisor informed Members that most areas were now completed, however work on the ‘Bromley RE’ section was currently being undertaken with teachers.
A SACRE Member noted that they liked the syllabus, but queried if it could conflict with the new regulations being brought in for primary and secondary schools regarding PSHE and relationships. Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) was to be separate from curriculum subjects. It was not the responsibility of the RE teachers to cover this topic, and therefore there should be no conflict. However, consideration may need to be given with regards to the borough’s guidance, and linking together going forward. It was suggested that a discussion could take place to see if any collaboration could be made. The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education noted that there was not yet a contractual agreement, but initial discussions had taken place with the SACRE RE Advisor regarding how this could be rolled out with schools.
In response to a question, the SACRE RE Advisor said that the expectation was for all schools to implement RSE. Parents would be able to see what would be taught, and it would be mentioned in schools’ policies. A Teacher representative noted that the point of the new guidance was to ensure that nothing valuable to a child’s education was missing. All children would learn about RSE, and robust systems would be put in place to ensure that they did so without judgement.
BROMLEY EDUCATION MATTERS WEBSITE
The LBB Head of School Standards presented the new ‘Bromley Education Matters’ website to the SACRE. It was noted that there had been a soft launch of the website at the beginning of the week, and a wider launch expected to take place in the near future.
The ‘About us’ section provided information on what the website offered, and listed the details of Education Planning for any queries to be sent on to. The ‘Services’ tab provided links to a number of sections and included the area for School Standards, which it was noted would increase rapidly in size over the next few weeks. The ‘Resources’ tab provided the link to the SACRE page, which included an introductory statement that had been agreed by the Chairman and SACRE RE Advisor. The SACRE page provided links to the Ramadan Guide for Schools, Bromley Agreed Syllabus, Religious Education and Collective Worship Self-Review and Reflective Pools Refreshing Collective Worship in Bromley schools documents.
The Chairman noted that the SACRE page also had a ‘Useful links’ section, which referenced external links, such as ‘Exploring the Holocaust: UK Residential Course - 14 February 2020 to 18 February 2020’. It had been requested that a disclaimer be added to make it clear that the items listed were not endorsed by the SACRE, but that schools may find them useful.
The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education advised Members that the Bromley Education Matters website had replaced the Fronter system. Over the coming weeks and months the website would be developed further – more information would be added, and it would be open to all. In response to a question, the LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education said that the Bromley Education Matters website was separate from the London Borough of Bromley website. It had been purchased as a template, and was hosted by a third party.
The LBB Head of School Standards informed Members that the website could be found by typing ‘BromleyEducationMatters.uk’ into a search engine. It was currently being negotiated for the website to be moved up in the search lists, and key words could be provided. Members suggested that it would be important to include the phrase ‘Bromley RE’ on this list, and for the Bromley Education Matters and London Borough of Bromley websites to provide links to each other. It was also requested that the SACRE resources page include a link to the NASACRE website, and a ‘Contact us’ section to provide details of the Clerk to the Bromley SACRE.
ACTION: LBB Head of School Standards
In response to a question, the Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education confirmed that the Bromley Education Matters website could be accessed now, but at present, teachers were unable to sign up for any courses. This was the only section that required a log-in, and they were in the process of providing these details to all Headteachers.
Members ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
The SACRE RE Advisor informed Members that the Calendar Competition had been launched, and included in the School Circular. It was noted that a number of secondary schools had indicated their intention to be involved in the project this year.
The SACRE RE Advisor said she would include ‘the circulation of the draft calendar to all SACRE Members’ as an item on the Action Plan, so that the dates of religious events and festivals could be double-checked.
ACTION: SACRE RE Advisor
Members had been provided with a copy of the SACRE Action Plan for 2019-2020, which had been produced by the SACRE RE Advisor.
The SACRE RE Advisor said that most of the actions listed had been covered during the meeting. With regards to the ‘SACRE Membership’, some sections could now be marked in green, as the Chairman had written to the Southwark Roman Catholic Diocese, and comments from the SACRE had been collated to update the Terms of Reference. It was noted that the amended Terms of Reference would be provided to Members at the next meeting of the SACRE.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Denise Angell and Christopher Town left the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor Onslow returned to the meeting during consideration of this item.
The Chairman reminded Members that at a previous meeting of the SACRE, the need for some guidance relating to determinations had been discussed, although it was highlighted that no determinations had been received by the Bromley SACRE. The Local Authority, along with a number of other SACREs, had recently received a Freedom of Information (FOI) request relating to determinations, and it was felt to be an appropriate time to discuss the subject. The SACRE RE Advisor tabled draft copies of the ‘Bromley Determinations Guidance’ and ‘New Application for a determination’ form, and Members were invited to give their comments.
A Member enquired if legal requirements had been considered. The SACRE RE Advisor said that she had researched the official legal requirements, as well as the Statutory Guidance from 2010. It was noted that all documents used the phrase “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character…”, and although this was often interpreted to mean 51%, this was not actually the case.
The Chairman advised Members that during the SACRE pre-meet, two key amendments to the ‘Bromley Determinations Guidance’ had been discussed. The first of these was to include a sentence informing the school what would happen once the form was submitted – confirming receipt of the application; advising when the application would be heard; and that they would be notified of the outcome following this date. The second was to amend the ‘New Application for a determination’ form to state ‘Christian (all denominations)’ and included ‘Humanist’ in the same sub-section as ‘Atheist / Agnostic / no religion’. A Member suggested that as it was a belief affiliation, consideration could also be given to including ‘Humanist’ in the ‘Other’ section of the table. Another Member expressed that as Humanism was recognised as a ‘World View’, it should be a stand-alone option, and noted that it would be interesting to see what classifications were listed on the Census. The Chairman advised Members that the religions or belief affiliations included in the table were a reflection the Bromley SACRE and the religious population of borough.
Following a discussion, the Chairman proposed that Members vote on the suggested options:
Votes to leave ‘Humanist’ as a stand-alone category: 3
Votes to include ‘Humanist’ to the sub-section with ‘Atheist / Agnostic / no religion’: 3
The Chairman had the casting vote, and it was resolved that ‘Humanist’ be added to the sub-section with ‘Atheist / Agnostic / no religion’.
The Chairman informed Members that agreement was also sought in relation to the procedure when a determination was received. It was suggested that if there was a lengthy period of time between receiving the determination and the next meeting of the SACRE, a meeting of a representative group could be called. The Clerk could circulate an invitation to all SACRE Members, involving them in the pre-consultation, which would allow the documents ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
6.00pm, Wednesday 4th March 2020
6.00pm, Wednesday 4th March 2020