Agenda and minutes

Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education - Wednesday, 16th June, 2021 6.30 pm

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

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 677 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Educationmeeting held on 6 January 2021.


The minutes of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Educationheld on 6 January 2021 were approved as a correct record subject


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.


There were no items of Urgent Business.



Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.



Appointment of Chair and Vice-Chairs


Nominations were invited for the appointment of Chair of the Committee.  It was proposed by Mr Ojetola and seconded by Councillor Kerin, that Mr Anderson be appointed and remain as Chair of the Committee.


Nominations were invited for the appointment of Vice Chair of Committees A, B, C and D.




  1. That Mr P Anderson be appointed as Chair of Thurrock SACRE.
  2. The following members be elected as Vice Chairs:


Committee A: Mr T Ojetola

Committee B: Mr P Anderson

Committee C: Ms J Culloty 

Committee D: Councillor Collins



Reviewing the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education pdf icon PDF 957 KB

Additional documents:


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education presented the report explaining every Local Authority was required to establish and support an occasional body called an Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC).  She advised the last review was undertaken in 2016 and the current Agreed Syllabus was approved.


During discussions members were advised a survey was to be circulated to all schools for teachers to give their views on the current document which had been taught within Thurrock schools and the ASC would form the same four committees as SACRE.


Mr Anderson, Chair of SACRE proposed that members formed the ASC this was seconded by Councillor Kerin. SACRE agreed to form the Agreed Syllabus Conference for the remaining of Item 6.


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education explained the options open to SACRE were:


A.   To renew the license with RE Today which included a supplement to insert into the current syllabus (2016/2021) this would be circulated electronically to schools following the Agreed Syllabus.

B.   That SACRE could adopt RE Today’s most recent syllabus model B

C.   SACRE could commission a bespoke new Agreed Syllabus with assistance from RE today.


During discussions it was clarified the ASC were not required to choose a particular option to move forward with at this meeting however were to discuss the pros and cons with regards to each option. It was commented that within option A the update would include an expanded SEND guidance, revised and re-written guidance on assessments, and local demographic information in relation to Key Stage 3 units such as Islam, SIKHI and Buddhism.


It was noted for option B the syllabus would include some of the key updates from option A, and was created in 2017 by RE Today as a new syllabus model. Members heard that some of the questions included were very similar to the current syllabus however its approach was slightly different.


Option C could fulfil statutory duties by requiring a full local review of the agreed syllabus and would include a process such as setting up the agreed syllabus conference, serving teachers, receiving an initial draft by the Associate for Religious Education, approval by SACRE and the Local Authority and finally receiving a final copy of the syllabus in either a paper or online version.


Members of SACRE queried as to the cost of the license if they were mindful to adopt the syllabus from RE Today. The Associate Advisor for a Religious Education explained the license included permission for each local school to use the syllabus, hardcopies of the syllabus support document supplied as PDF to each school and the Local Authority. It was noted the syllabus itself would remain the copyright of RE Today. Members further heard there was a cost between £20,000 and £30,000 should they be mindful to write a new bespoke syllabus. The Associate Advisor for Religious Education highlighted the potential timeline for the ASC and this was noted and agreed by members.


During discussions members sought confirmation if they were to choose option  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


GCSE entries and results in Thurrock 2020 pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education explained the report compared GCSE entries and results for - Studies with national data and explored the extent to which the trends for schools in Thurrock reflects those nationally.


During discussions members commented they felt the Council didn’t promote Religious Education within schools enough for example some schools were not teaching the faith of Sikhi.

Mr Anderson returned to the meeting at 7:25 pm and returned to the role of Chair.


It was observed by Ms Olajide she felt primary Religious Education was used as a filler subject unless the school was a faith school, as they did not see Religious Education as an important subject, she continued by stating it was important for children to learn about Religious Education from an early age.


SACRE noted that 74% of Thurrock children were achieving a grade of 9-4 of those entered to the full course, this was 78% nationally and the average attainment eight score of all pupils of a 1 or 2 grade was 48% compared to 50% nationally.


It was highlighted that Thurrock appeared in position 49 out of 150 local authorities when ranked according to entries for GCSE Religious Studies. The highest ranked authority entered 77% and the lowest 11%. The average point score for all subjects in Thurrock Schools is around 2 points (half a GCSE grade) lower than the national average. The Chair observed that pupils entering a full course at GCSE was at 25% for Thurrock compared to 39% nationally.




1.    Informs school leaders, multi-academy trusts and governors about the findings of this research and

2.    Requests that they consider how the study of Religious Education as part of a broad and balanced curriculum appears to have an impact on pupil attainment overall.


Mr Ojetola left the meeting at 7.36pm



Ofsted Research Review on Religious Education 2021 pdf icon PDF 836 KB


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education explained the report related to the new education inspection framework from OFSTED and highlighted the findings of OFSTED in the review into what constituted high quality artery within schools.


During discussions it was commented the review recognised there was no single way of teaching high-level religious education and furthermore it highlighted some common features;


·       The curriculum was well sequenced to sure the peoples left knowledge they needed for later topics;

·       There was consideration of when people should relate the context to that own personal knowledge;


·       It was felt there was adequate time given to religious education for RE leaders to deliver an ambitious curriculum, and

·       There was also significant training and professional development for teachers to have an appropriate subject professional knowledge.


Mr Anderson touched on the topic of weak framing and how the RE curriculum was classified was perhaps an indication of the extent to how a school prioritised Religious Education, an example of this was when RE was taught within PSHE or alongside other subjects which would limit the curriculum pupils could learn.




1.      Agree to share information about the key findings of this review with Headteachers, Governors and multi-academy trusts and some excerpts to stimulate discussion.



Any Other Business


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education updated SACRE with regards to the spirited art competition, it was explained that five members of SACRE had returned their marking forms and there was only one week until the competition closed. She continued by asking if SACRE members could return their markings of the artwork submitted by children across the borough. MR Kariyawasamexplained he had collated a form to be able to mark the artwork and offered to circulate this via Democratic Services to all members. It was agreed to extend the deadline for one week to Friday 25th June to allow members of SACRE to submit their markings.


The Associate Advisor for Religious Education wanted to offer her thanks to Sue Lamkin for all of her help and assistance with making the spirited art competition successful.