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 A whether it be possible to create a ‘wish list’ for teachers following the survey, as to topics or help they may like to be included with regards to the syllabus and or any supporting guidance. It was observed as to whether it would be possible to modify the syllabus to suit schools individually with regards to them being either Academies or Local Authority Schools.
SACRE were advised by the Associate Advisor that depending on the option RE Today would draft the document in the first instance for SACRE to review and this would include any modifications.
RESOLVED that SACRE Members:
1. Convene an Agreed Syllabus Conference
2. Agree to begin the process of reviewing the agreed syllabus by conducting a survey of teachers
3. Agree the proposed timeline
4. Consider some of the options for the review presented in Appendix 1 from RE Today and the supplemental pdf (model b)
At 7:12 pm Mr Ojetola as Vice-Chair of Committee A took the role of Chair as Mr Anderson had technical difficulties.