Agenda item

A New Settlement: Religion and Beliefs in Schools


The RE Adviser explained to the Committee that, the attached pamphlet was launched in the House of Lords in July 2015 by Professor Linda Woodhead and the Right Honourable Charles Clarke of Lancaster University. It considered the question of whether the current legal requirements for RE were fit for purpose in 2015.


During the Committees discussion the following points were highlighted:


               It was felt that organised religion appeared to be less important, with an increase in interest in matters of spiritually;


               The Chair informed the Committee that he was to have a meeting with the Headteachers within his area of the boroughs to discuss Collective Worship and would report back to the council;


               The associate adviser pointed out that the research of Professor Linda Woodhead had demonstrated that because a person reported themselves as having no religion on the census did not make them atheist, it meant that they did not consider themselves to bepart of an organised religion;


               The Chair suggested that it seemed that collective worship was a normal part of daily life within schools but once it was made compulsory it appeared to decline;


               The teacher representative on the council, stated that collective worship still took place within schools as thoughts, prays and reflection this was usually undertaken during assemblies. It was felt that by doing collective worship in this way it wouldn’t offend anyone with or without a faith.


Members continued to discuss the report and debated the question of what was meant by moral values, an example given was that faith schools would have their own individual values to follow. It was agreed by all present that the report should have included an explanation as to what was meant by “moral code”.


It was suggested that it may be harder to conduct an act of collective worship if the person teaching doesn’t have a religion or a faith. The RE Adviser, explained that collective worship, was an opportunity to worship for a collective of people who may be of different faiths or none.


The council were asked for their thoughts on page 75 of the document within agenda papers, as to whether there should be a national or local SACRE. During the debate it was agreed that a local SACRE worked best, as local context could be taken into account; as well as community cohesion and local schools understand the religions and beliefs within the local area.


The Chair of SACRE informed those present that he felt this item was an important item and should have a further debate with all members of SACRE present. He asked if members would be happy to hold a special meeting in October; the Clerk confirmed that 7.2 of the Committee Terms of Reference allowed the Chair to call a special meeting if it was felt one was required.


Those presented, agreed on holding a special meeting in October, the Chair asked the Clerk to contact all Members of SACRE for their availability and to arrange a meeting for the date convenience for all.




That SACRE discuss the recommendations of the report in relation to the Thurrock context at a special meeting in October.

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