Agenda and minutes

Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education - Wednesday, 6th January, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 4, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL

Contact: Kenna Victoria Healey, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email:


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Educationmeeting held on 4 November 2020.

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The minutes of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Educationheld on 4 November 2020 were approved as a correct record subject to noting the incorrect spelling of Mr Kariyawasam surname.



Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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There were no items of Urgent Business.



Declarations of Interest

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There were no declarations of interest.



What do stakeholders say about RE in Thurrock? Thurrock's Youth Cabinet

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The Chair of SACRE explained one of the key responsibilities and duties of SACRE was overseeing, reviewing and issuing the agreed syllabus for the teaching of RE in Thurrock that cycle is about to start again I want the things that we are committed to doing is consulting widely with a whole range of stakeholders who have an interest in RE teaching within Thurrock prior to conducting that review and I'm delighted that some members of these cabinets have been able to come along to our meeting tonight.

He continued by explaining he had hoped to go round the Members of the Youth Cabinet and for them to answer any of the questions within the agenda which they thought they would like to answer.


During discussions Members heard how one Member of the Youth Cabinet spoke about her experiences of RE at Primary and Secondary School both of which were Roman Catholic Faith Schools and how they differed. She explained how she remembered RE in School being taught very cross curricular. She continued by stating she remembered when in Primary School RE was learning through artwork rather than through textbooks.


Councillor Kerin thanked the Youth Cabinet for attending the meeting and commented it was wonderful to hear their perspectives of RE in Schools. He asked from their point of view what how important did they and young people of their age group consider RE to be and their view on the UK becoming less religious but the world was becoming more religious, as he felt it was an interesting contrast.


Members heard how in terms of RE and the younger generation one member of the Youth Cabinet felt it was very dependent on the background young people came from and how religious their family was. She continued by stating as a generation she felt young people were becoming less religious as a society in terms of RE due to a limited focus.

It was commented that perhaps Religious Education was seen as a downfall by some pupils because it was not respected and was perceived as a subject that you had to do instead wanted to participate in, it was felt this could be due to the limited number of practical lessons and trips which other subjects could do.


Councillor Kerin followed up by asking what in the Young Cabinet’s opinion did they think could assist in making RE more respected and a subject which young people wanted to study. He continued by linking his question to comment made about your background being important and what the Youth Cabinet thought could be put in place to make RE important regardless of whether you come from a religious background.


SACRE heard how a member of the Youth Cabinet felt if more young people had a religious background, then there would be different cultural backgrounds and perhaps an appreciation for different religions. She further mentioned how in years Eight and Nine they learnt about  animal cruelty, sweatshops and Crime and Punishment, during  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Review of Thurrock SACRE Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 220 KB

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The Chair of SACRE Phil Anderson presented the item and in doing so explained the terms of reference were to be amended and updated before being presented the annual council for approval.


During discussions it was highlighted the Free Church Federal Council had an education section known as the Free Church Education Group. Members also decided after reading through the Terms of Reference point 9 quorum to remove the line regarding less than a third of the total membership at present, this meant that as long as one member from each committee was present SACRE was quorate.


The Chair of SACRE sought the views of Councillor Kerin with regards to increasing the membership of Committee D and including substitutions. Councillor Kerin explained since being part of SACRE that appeared to be a struggle to find Elected Members to be part of the Committee. He stated he felt keeping at the membership at three Elected Members covered each political party and agreed that having three substitutes as nominated by Annual Council was a good idea.




That SACRE agree the revised Constitution of Thurrock SACRE as set out in Appendix 1.



Spirited Arts - Local and National Competition 2021

This is a verbal update.

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Associate Advisor for Religious Education offered Members of SACRE a verbal update with regards to the spiritual competition. She informed members that Sue Lampkin had set up a portal online for schools to register their interest in SACRE’s local competition, with the competition being announced in the Headteacher’s bulletin which was circulated to all local schools.


During discussions it was enquired as to whether prizes could be donated by local businesses linked to the arts or a spiritual connection could be sought for winners of the competition. Members also discussed the uses of social media and local media to advertise and highlight the competition to all children in the borough. It was commented but the country was in a national lockdown due to the pandemic this work could be set by schools for children to complete at home.


The Strategic Lead for School Effectiveness and SEND  commented the Headteacher’s bulletin as discussed would be going out at the end of January (2021) and advised that parents would not be able to access the portal at present, this would be schools only. The Associate Advisor for Religious Education stated they had asked for two entries per school age group and that the results would be declared at the summer term.


Members of SACRE commented this was a nice thing for schools to engage with SACRE on as well as encouraging remote learning during this hard time. It was queried as to the age groups the pieces of work would come in from. The Associate Advisor for Religious Education confirmed ther3 would be a prize for early years, KS1, lower KS2 and KS2.


The Chair stated he was looking forward to seeing the work produced by the young people of the borough and wish them all good luck.


RESOLVED that SACRE Members noted the update from the Associate Advisor for Religious Education.



Update on National Developments and Opportunities pdf icon PDF 242 KB

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The Associate Advisor for Religious Education presented the report to members which detailed the key national developments impacting on Religious Education and sought SACRE views and suggested actions.


Members heard how on the 10 October 2019, the government announced that Colin Bloom had been appointed as the faith engagement advisor at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and that he was launching a review interfaith engagement.  It was commented that his first engagement advisor Mr Bloom was leading a review into how best the government should engage with faith groups in England.


It was advised that before Christmas a consultation had launched to seek views and propose changes for GCSE and A-level examinations. The introduction to this consultation explained that student education had been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education commented that the Lincoln diocese board of education was to hold the RE symposium virtually on 23 February 2021 and this was the first of its kind within the UK to bring RE teachers creative, and policy makers together to focus on the potential impact of creative processes on the development of religious and world views literacy.


SACRE were advised following the disappointing news that bursaries had been cut from most subjects including Religious Education, it was really good news that Religious Education had been selected for funded subject knowledge enhancement courses. Members heard the funding would be available from April 2021 and that hopefully would support those people wishing to apply to teach Religious Education but who did not have a first degree within the subject.


It was suggested that the subject knowledge enhancement courses be shared with all schools for information and this was agreed by Members.




That SACRE members:


·       Review the information collected (Appendix 1)

·       Evaluate the relevance of each section for RE in Thurrock

·       Consider the suggested actions



What do stakeholders say about RE in Thurrock? pdf icon PDF 679 KB

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The Chair of SACRE took members through the second part of the report which was to agree which stakeholders SACRE needed to consult with as part of its monitoring work and to inform the revision of the agreed syllabus.

The Associate Advisor for Religious Education suggested the following stakeholders as a starting point for SACRE to consult with:


  • Schools and Academies
  • The Local Authority
  • The Youth Cabinet
  • The Regional School’s Commissioner


It was suggested that perhaps within schools Headteacher or RE Leads would be good stakeholders to speak with as teachers were on the front line and were teaching the curriculum which was supported by the agreed syllabus. Members further suggested that retired Religious Education teachers also be contacted for their views.




1.1         Engage in a discussion firstly with young people from the Youth Cabinet (starter questions are provided in appendix A) and then with each other about Religious Education in Thurrock and its links to promoting tolerance and respect.


1.2      Agree what other stakeholders it needs to consult as part of its monitoring work and to inform the revision of the Agreed Syllabus.



Annual Report 2019-2020 Thurrock SACRE pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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The Chair of SACRE introduced the annual report for 2019/2022 to members explaining he had spoken with the previous Chair Rev. John Guest who was happy for the report to be presented in the current Chair’s name. He continued by stating he felt it was important that Rev. Guest was acknowledged within the report for all of his hard work and it was important that SACRE’s thanks to him also be acknowledged. The Chair then opened up for any comments and questions on the Annual Report.


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education stated the only issue within the report was that the Department for Education was not publishing exam results for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and therefore instead of the results being reported, the number of entries for those students taking RE exams could be noted instead. Members agreed with this and asked that the Associate Advisor contact schools to seek this information.


The Chair commented that in the past Councillor Kerin had kindly offered to present the report on behalf of SACRE at Full Council, and enquired if he was happy to continue to do this. Councillor Kerin confirmed he was happy to present the report to Elected Members at Full Council and would liaise with the Chair and Democratic Services for a convenient date.




1.1         That SACRE accept this report as an accurate record of its work for the period September 2019 – July 2020


1.2         Requests that the Assistant Director Education and Skills continues to include discussions about RE provision in the scheduled discussions with senior leadership teams


1.3         Requests that the school effectiveness team include a review of schools’ provision for RE and Collective Worship as part of their annual conversations. Specifically, that they consider:


o   the impact on pupil outcomes of the combination of subjects such as RE, RSE, Citizenship and PSHE

o   the level of training provided to those teaching RE especially when they have no previous experience of teaching the subject

o   the impact on pupil attainment of pupils being entered for a GCSE at the end of year 10

o   whether or not the amount of time dedicated to RE on school timetables was sufficient for pupils to meet the aims of either the Thurrock Agreed Syllabus or, in the case of academy schools, eitherthe Thurrock Agreed Syllabus or one that is ‘equally broad and ambitious’ as expected by the DfE and Ofsted