Agenda and draft minutes

Virtual meeting, Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education - Wednesday 13 July 2022 6.00 pm

Contact: Jo Partridge  020 8461 7694

Items
No. Item

1.

APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Reverend Roger Bristow be elected as Chairman, and Deborah Corcoran be elected as Vice-Chairman, of the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education for the 2022/2023 municipal year.

 

2.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Members to the meeting of the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, which was held virtually via Teams.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jessica Arnold, Councillor Robert Evans, Councillor Chris Price, Ms Hannah Arnold, Ms Vicki Ashmore, Mr Daniel Coleman, Mrs Dorothy Lampert, Mr Arvinder Nandra and Ms Caroline Ringham.

 

3.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Graeme Casey declared that he worked at Tubbenden Primary School.

4.

COMPLIANCE OF THE GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION (GDPR)

Minutes:

No breaches of the GDPR were reported.

 

5.

A) MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 23RD FEBRUARY 2022 pdf icon PDF 393 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd February 2022 be confirmed as a correct record.

 

B)    MATTERS ARISING

 

Minute 29b: Matters Arising

It was noted that information on attendance at the primary and secondary network meetings had been circulated to SACRE Members following the last meeting.

 

Minute 32: Inter-faith Competition

The Chairman advised that the inter-faith competition would be discussed under agenda item 12.

 

Minute 33: Draft Bromley SACRE Annual Report 2020-2021 (including SACRE Self-Evaluation)

The Chairman advised Members that the final version of the Bromley SACRE Annual Report 2020-2021 had been submitted to NASACRE and the Department for Education (DfE), and would be presented to Full Council on 18th July 2022.

 

The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education advised that SACRE Members had requested information relating to the annual expenditure for the SACRE. During the 2021-2022 financial year, direct expenditure totalled £13,800, which included the time of the SACRE RE Adviser, production of the calendar and cost of representatives attending the NASACRE conference and AGM. It was noted that this figure did not include the time of officers in Democratic Services and School Standards.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser highlighted that this information had been requested by SACRE Members following the publication of a report by NASACRE and the DfE, looking at the sourcing and funding of SACREs. The DfE recommended that 2% of the Central Services School Block (CSSB) funding received by Local Authorities be allocated to SACRE in order for their statutory duties to be carried out, and 1% as a minimum. It was highlighted that, based on the figures provided, Bromley SACRE definitely received more than 1% of the funding, and was likely to be nearer 2%. The Chairman and SACRE RE Adviser expressed their gratitude for the funding that was provided to the SACRE.

 

The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education noted that during 2021-2022, Bromley SACRE had also benefitted from a Westhill/NASACRE Award, and the grant had been used to support the work around the interfaith dialogue conferences.

 

Minute 35: Best Practice Paper for Guest Speakers

The LBB Head of School Standards confirmed that the best practice paper for guest speakers had been uploaded to the Bromley Education Matters website.

 

6.

REVIEW DETERMINATIONS

Minutes:

No determinations had been received.

7.

NASACRE CONFERENCE AND AGM

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the NASACRE conference and AGM, attended by the SACRE RE Adviser and himself, had originally been scheduled to be held in-person in Birmingham on Monday 23rd May 2022, however it was moved online. The theme of the conference had been ‘ambitious SACREs’. The first key address had been received from Ed Pawson, Vice Chair – Religious Education Council (REC) on ‘working together for high quality education in religion and worldviews'.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that the second key address, delivered by Dr Richard Kueh, had focused on ‘the substance of the curriculum: high-quality RE and Ofsted’s inspection frameworks’. The SACRE RE Adviser reassured Members that the key elements highlighted were the three types of knowledge and the importance of being scholarly, both of which were supported by the Bromley Agreed RE Syllabus. The latter was also addressed in the training that the SACRE RE Adviser had been delivering to teachers.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser highlighted that one session of the conference had involved discussions around the DfE investigation into funding – a project was underway to distil this information into a report, but this had not yet been released. The plan was for information to be provided to NASACRE, who would then compile a report to present to the DfE, recommending that they write to individual Local Authorities that were not providing SACREs with the minimum of 1% funding from the Central Services School Block (CSSB).

 

The Chairman advised that there had been break-out sessions during the day, which had been extremely valuable. The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that a programme of virtual workshops had been held following the conference. It was noted that the ‘supporting RE teachers with enhanced subject knowledge’ workshop had been interesting, as the strategies presented were similar to those used for the Bromley interfaith dialogue conferences. Another suggestion shared had been to deliver talks in various places of worship – this was something that the Bromley teacher networks had started to undertake, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and could be reinstated in the future. The Chairman advised that he had attended the workshop on the ‘Still Standing’ report, a copy of which can be accessed via the following link: https://nasacre.org.uk/file/nasacre/1-58-final-still-standing.pdf

 

The SACRE RE Adviser noted that NASACRE had written a summary of the conference and AGM, a copy of which is attached at Appendix A.

8.

DIGEST OF OFSTED REPORTS

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded SACRE Members that they had previously requested that a digest of Ofsted reports be provided to the meetings.

 

The LBB Head of School Standards advised that she monitored every Ofsted report received by the Local Authority, but none had referred to Religious Education.

 

9.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS AND UPDATES

Minutes:

SACRE Members had been provided with links to the following documents:

 

9a

DfE WHITE PAPER ON EDUCATION

Minutes:

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that she hoped to attend a session being held by NASACRE in November 2022 to continue the conversation around the government’s White Paper on education, and consider possible ways forward for SACREs.

 

One of the main emphasises of the White Paper was an increased push for schools to become part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and devolving responsibility from Local Authorities, both of which could have implications for SACREs. It was noted that if Ofsted-controlled teacher hubs were created, which would be supported by Oak National Academy, there were concerns regarding teachers’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD), as well as the place of Local Authorities in supporting this work in their own boroughs as funding may be cut. There was a focus on core subjects in the Paper, such as literacy and maths, and there were further concerns that the subjects in the wider curriculum were not referenced.

 

The Chairman noted that an Education Bill had also been introduced prior to the White Paper, and some of the contentious issues had now been amended.

 

A Member noted that the RE Report Card stated that 34% of academies did not have any RE timetabled and church schools were concerned that if they were the minority within a MAT they may be unable to retain their religious character.

 

9b

DRAFT HANDBOOK - RELIGION AND WORLDVIEWS IN THE CLASSROOM: DEVELOPING A WORLDVIEWS APPROACH (RE COUNCIL OF ENGLAND AND WALES)

Minutes:

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that this had been the focus of one of the key note speeches at the NASACRE conference and AGM. A core report had been published a few years previously, which made a recommendation for a ‘national entitlement statement’. This was to provide a definition of what all pupils, in all schools across the country, should have access to when learning about RE. Part of the national entitlement had included a change in the name from ‘Religious Education’ to ‘Religions and worldviews’. There had also been a change in the teaching approach, which informed the way that pupils investigated religions or worldviews, and this had been reflected in the Bromley Agreed RE Syllabus.

 

It was highlighted that if the power of SACREs decreased, this would increase the need for a ‘national entitlement statement’. The aim of the project was to create examples of what the religions and worldviews approach could look like. There had been a national bidding campaign to create a framework, and the SACRE RE Adviser noted that she was a member of one of the successful groups.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser noted that the Handbook was currently still in draft form – there had been some concerns raised with regards to the content not reflecting all worldviews, and therefore changes were likely to be made. In terms of timescales, research would need to be undertaken and the draft framework written by autumn 2022. This would be piloted from January 2023, with feedback collated and reported back to the REC in the summer term 2023, which would impact on the revisions to the Handbook.

 

A Member noted that they had found the Handbook extremely helpful in putting the worldviews approach into perspective. It was questioned if a change in primary legislation was needed as the Education Reform Act 1988 still referred to principle religions, rather than wider worldviews, and if this would impact examination courses, which were again based on religions. The SACRE RE Adviser said the proposed recommendation was for the ‘national entitlement statement’ to replace the current legislation. The Education Reform Act 1988 had been amended according to the Equalities Act in 2010, which stated that ‘religions’ included non-religious worldviews. With regards to the examinations, there had been criticism following Ofsted’s subject review in May 2021 that the three types of knowledge and worldviews approach promoted were not currently being addressed within the exam syllabi. Members were advised that Ofqual dictated what the examination boards were required to include, which meant that exam writers were constrained – currently this still related to the traditional approach of what pupils knew about religions and worldviews, and what could be learnt from them. This did not necessarily reflect the worldview approach which not only encouraged pupils to use their personal knowledge or worldview, to understand that of others, but also strengthened their disciplinary or scholarly skills.

9c

RE REPORT CARD LAUNCH

Minutes:

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that the RE Report Card brought together statistics and information received by NASACRE, and linked with the earlier discussions around funding for SACREs and the DfE recommendations. It was highlighted that, despite the lack of funding and initial support for trainee teachers, this report card showed pupils were doing extremely well in their exams, and the number of pupils taking RE had increased. The RE Report Card was being used to promote the subject and lobby for more funding, and there was a letter available on the website that could be completed and submitted to MP’s.

 

A Member noted the statement made in the Report regarding government performance, with £0 having been spent on RE projects between 2016-2021 compared to £387m spent on music projects during the same period. The SACRE RE Adviser agreed that there was a huge difference in the project spends, and that RE seemed to be at the bottom of the table.

 

10.

SACRE SELF-EVALUATION

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the self-evaluation of the SACRE was a continuous process, which informed the development of the Committee and the Annual Report to the DfE each year.

 

It was agreed that Members would follow the same process used in previous years, and confer with other representatives from their respective groups. It was suggested that:

 

  • Group A members (representatives of other faiths and Christian denominations) look at section 5 – contributing to cohesion across the community and the promotion of social and racial harmony.

 

  • Group B members (the Church of England) look at section 4 – promoting improvement in the provision and quality of collective worship.

 

  • Group C members (teachers) look at section 3 – evaluating the effectiveness of the locally agreed syllabus.

 

  • Group D members (Councillors) look at section 1 – management of the SACRE and building the partnership between the SACRE, the LA and other key stakeholders.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser said that she would draft some guidance which could be circulated to Members, with a copy of the self-evaluation document, following the meeting.    ACTION: SACRE RE Adviser / Clerk

 

It was agreed that the following SACRE Members would collate the feedback from their group:

-  Group A (other faiths and Christian denominations) – Katie Burtonshaw

-  Group B (Church of England) – Christopher Town

-  Group C (teachers) – Lee Kings

-  Group D (Councillors) – Councillor Kate Lymer

     ACTION: SACRE Members

 

Members were requested to email the SACRE clerk their thoughts by 12.00pm on Wednesday 5th October 2022, after which time the responses would be collated and provided to the SACRE RE Adviser.

 

11.

'REAL' RESOURCES: INTERFAITH DIALOGUE CONFERENCES pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Minutes:

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that the first Interfaith Dialogue Online Conference had been held in March 2022 and had been extremely successful. A SACRE Member, involved in the Conference, said the session had been good fun and had been a great way to discuss some of the differences and similarities between the faiths. These comments were echoed by another SACRE Member, who said that they had learnt a lot themselves during the session, which meant that pupils would too.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that clips from the session had been edited and would be made available to teachers in the near future. The LBB Head of School Standards played one of the video clips to Members and advised that work was underway to look at how they could be uploaded to YouTube.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that it had been agreed by those taking part that a second Conference could be run during the summer term. However it had not been possible to identify a date or time that everyone could make, and the following three options were therefore proposed:

-  running the session during August;

-  running the session during an evening slot; or,

-  running multiple shorter sessions to focus on one key question at a time.

 

Following a brief discussion, the Church of England and other faiths representatives confirmed they were happy with all three proposals and the SACRE RE Adviser said she would add some further options to the Doodle poll.    ACTION: SACRE RE Adviser

 

The SACRE RE Adviser said that thought was being given to a future project on scriptural readings, which could follow a similar format to look at interpreting what they meant today. This could then be further developed into workshops for pupils and a CPD tool for teachers. In response to a question, the SACRE RE Adviser noted that this would be accessible to all – it did not have to relate to religious scriptures, and all representatives could respond regarding how they interpreted their meaning.

 

The SACRE RE Adviser said that she had been involved in a project with a national organisation looking at how SACREs could increase their engagement and collaboration with parents, in addition to schools and local faith groups. One idea considered for the project would be the modelling of parents being invited to scriptural reading sessions. Another was that the Bromley best practice guidance for guest speakers could be built upon, with training developed for SACRE Members and parents to support and enhance their engagement and success in contributions to pupils’ learning when visiting schools. Teacher representatives agreed that it would be a good idea to involve parents. In response to a question, the SACRE RE Adviser said that this would not be limited to just parents or legal guardians and could include wider family members – the aim would be to build bridges and encourage a good level of engagement from them.

 

12.

INTER-FAITH CALENDAR COMPETITION pdf icon PDF 376 KB

Minutes:

The SACRE RE Adviser informed Members that the number of schools involved, and entries received, for the calendar competition had reduced this year, which was thought to be due to the impact of COVID-19. The schools had been notified of the winners and certificates had been provided.

 

The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education advised that, as the SACRE RE Adviser now worked directly for the Local Authority, the production of the calendar could be kept in house. The calendar was currently with the design team, who had worked on the Bromley Agreed RE Syllabus, and it was anticipated that it would be available by the end of the summer. In response to questions, the LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education advised that, once finalised, the calendar would be made freely available to download from the Bromley Education Matters website. With regards to the Bromley Council website, it was noted that the new website was being launched and a number of areas were still under development – once the calendar was published a link to access it from the Bromley Education Matters website could be added.

 ACTION: LBB Head of School Standards

 

13.

SACRE ACTION PLAN (INCLUDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH SCHOOLS) pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Minutes:

The SACRE RE Adviser had provided Members with an updated SACRE Action Plan for the period September 2021-September 2022. The SACRE RE Adviser highlighted that the majority of actions were marked in green as ‘complete’, other than the actions relating to the Interfaith Dialogue Conference which were discussed earlier in the meeting. Members were advised that this year a survey had been sent to all primary and secondary schools, feedback from which could be provided.

 

With regards to the next academic year, the SACRE RE Adviser noted that the primary and secondary teacher networks would continue, and would be looking at the Bromley Agreed RE Syllabus. As agreed, the second Interfaith Dialogue Conference would be held during August. In response to a question, the SACRE RE Adviser said that once the conference clips were published, an item would be included on the following year’s action plan to gauge their use. The LBB Head of Service for Early Years, School Standards and Adult Education advised that it would be possible to run a report to see how many ‘hits’ the SACRE pages of the Bromley Education Matters website had received, and the Chairman noted that YouTube also counted how many views each video had. A Member noted that some schools may have issues accessing the videos via YouTube. The LBB Head of School Standards said that accessing the videos could be trialled with the RE leads through the teacher networks, and other ways around this could be investigated.

 

RESOLVED that the SACRE Action Plan be noted.

 

14.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that a request to move the start time of the SACRE meetings had been received from a Member. It was noted that 6.00pm had been agreed as a compromise to allow teachers to attend after school, and Councillors to attend later meetings if scheduled on the same evening.

 

The Chairman said that the two SACRE meetings during the current municipal year would remain with a start time of 6.00pm, as published in the Council programme of meetings, but could be reconsidered going forward. The SACRE RE Adviser noted that if the SACRE returned to holding in-person meetings, this may have an impact on the agreed start time.

 

15.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

6.00pm, Wednesday 9th November 2022

6.00pm, Wednesday 1st March 2023

Minutes:

6.00pm, Wednesday 9th November 2022

6.00pm, Wednesday 1st March 2023

 

Appendix A pdf icon PDF 143 KB