Agenda and minutes

Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education
Thursday, 20th October, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Romford & District Synagogue, Eastern Road, Romford RM1 3NH

Contact: Grant Soderberg Tel: 01708 433091  e-mail:  grant.soderberg@onesource.co.uk

Items
No. Item

53.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE - if any, to receive

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Joshua Chapman, Mr Om Dhir, Mr Sansar Narwal, Mr Nasir Mubashar, Mrs Kirsty Fanning and Mrs Dawn Ladbrook.  There was a retrospective apology from Councillor Gillian Ford.

54.

NEW or SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS & WELCOME TO VISITORS

To note any substitute members present at the meeting and welcome any new members.

Minutes:

SACRE welcomed Opal Brown from the Barking and Dagenham SACRE to the meeting as an observer.  The presence of Mrs Stanley-Hunt a member of the Baha’i faith was also noted.

55.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING AND MATTERS ARISING pdf icon PDF 254 KB

To agree as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2016 and to authorise the Chairman to sign them and to address any matters arising therefrom.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2016 were agreed and signed by the Chairman.  There were no matters arising from that meeting.

56.

UPDATE ON SCHOOL ACTIVITY pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To receive oral and written reports from the professional representative and to comment on them or propose action as necessary.

Minutes:

Mrs Diamond-Conway reported that the Primary Network Meeting had taken place and had centred on “Godly Play” which had been very enthusiastically received.  The Redbridge team explained how it worked and Havering schools could have its services for an initial fee of £60 with additional fees for additional work.  Alternatively, Havering could train a team of its own.  Mrs Diamond-Conway added that although it was based on the Judeo-Christian tradition, it had been expanded to accommodate other religions and faiths.

 

She reported that the meeting between her, the Assistant Director, Learning and Achievement, Susan Sutton and the Chair of SACRE had taken place during the summer and had been very positive.  One thing which had emerged was a suggestion that members from groups A and B (Christian and religious organisations and the Church of England representatives) might like to consider visiting schools to speak about their faiths.  Volunteers were invited to give their names to her at the end of the meeting or to let the clerk know of their interest and availability.

 

In respect of SACRE membership, SACRE was reminded that the responsibility for confirming or amending membership lay with the Local Authority (LA) but that SACRE could make representation and provide arguments for inclusion or change which would be taken into consideration.  Members were informed that the LA could make changes autonomously, but after the summer discussions, Mrs Diamond-Conway reassured them that SACRE would make no recommendations without discussing and voting on it first.

 

A question was asked about whether SACRE had a budget and if so, who was responsible for it and how big was it?  The answer – provided by Mrs Weston – was that the LA did receive funding which was specifically earmarked to support the work of SACRE but there was a limited fund, provided by central government for a number of different responsibilities from which limited funding could be drawn.  Whatever “pot” the funding came from would be under increased pressure from all the other areas the LA was responsible for.  It was accepted, however, that any necessary funding would be paid by the LA (such as membership of NASACRE along with other costs, for example: some conference / AGM fees and associated expenses and the Agreed Syllabus).

 

57.

GCSE ISSUES pdf icon PDF 6 KB

Presented by Mrs Weston

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs Weston presented this and members were informed that the 2015 GCSE subject content report (which they had received with the agenda) had been set by the Government and was not for discussion or change, but SACRE was asked to participate in identifying suitable resources for the various religions in Annex A to the report which could be fed back to schools.

 

She stated that the minimum requirement was for two major religions to be studied (25% of the course being spent on one, 25% on the other and the remaining 50% of the time spent studying four themes chosen from a list of philosophical and moral issues.  She added that there were variations and exceptions – for example: schools with a religious character. 

 

Members were keen to participate but there were questions about the content and structure of the GCSE questions from members and she agreed to bring some GCSE papers to the next meeting for them to understand more fully what GCSE candidates were being asked.  Mrs Weston collected the notes members made in the session and they would be circulated to members in preparation for the next meeting.

58.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS IN RELIGIOUS EDUCATION pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To receive oral and written reports and to comment on or propose action as appropriate.

Minutes:

Mrs Diamond-Conway provided members with a résumé of her written report concerning awards available to SACREs.  The principal award was the “Accord Inclusivity Award” (AIA) which had been in existence for eight years but only available to schools.  For 2017 only, it was being made available to SACREs and Havering SACRE was being invited to consider making a bid (closing date 12 December 2016).  The main objective was to enhance the Religious Education experience for young people with an emphasis on growing inclusion, cohesion and understanding.  It was noted that recently this had found more expression through SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural) studies.

 

Grants from Westhill/NASACRE for local SACREs were also highlighted, alongside the RE Quality Mark which SACRE may assist schools in achieving.

59.

SACRE MEMBERSHIP

To be presented by SACRE’s professional advisor.

Minutes:

Mrs Diamond-Conway introduced this subject by reminding members that SACRE needed to be open and transparent about its membership.  Its purpose was to provide advice to the Local Authority.  Its terms of reference (ToR) should contain its structure and the composition of the groups and members were invited to discuss, in small groups, some different ToR specimens.  A member observed that the ToR needed to be flexible and reflect changes in demography over time.  Members considered that the National Census could be a useful tool in determining what the current membership of SACRE ought to be as changes to the population could bring about the rise of new identities (for example: the rise of people describing themselves as “Jedi” now outnumbered several other long-established religions in Havering).

 

After the discussion, members expressed their desire for any ToR to be flexible so that a broad base of knowledge could be made available.  Mr Siddiqui then stated that there were 72 groups in Islam.  Of these, only one Group was true and the others were not acceptable.  He wished his views to be minuted and stated that the Ahmadiyya were not Muslim.  They could be described as “Ahmadiyya” but not “Muslim”.  He added that his mosque – built up by him and stretching back to 1996 was the true Muslim representative within Havering and that it was wrong for other groups to be part of SACRE.

 

Mrs Diamond-Conway replied that it was appropriate for SACRE to acknowledge what Mr Siddiqui’s group had achieved for the local Muslim population over time but it was not possible to say who should or should not be a member of SACRE – that was the sole responsibility of the LA.  Mrs Weston drew Mr Siddiqui’s attention to the provisions of the 2010 Equality Act where is stated that a person (or group) must not be discriminated against because:

 

·         They were (or were not) of a particular religion.

·         They held (or did not hold) a particular philosophical belief.

·                Someone thinks they were of a particular religion or held a particular belief.

 - This was known as discrimination by perception.

·                They were connected to someone who had a religion or belief.

 - This was known as discrimination by association.

 

She stressed that if the local authority were to follow his recommendation not to accept a religious group on the basis that he did not accept their beliefs they risk breaching the Equality Act. The Local authority could not refuse a place on SACRE to an individual simply because someone did not like or approve of their religious beliefs.  Mr Siddiqui was of the opinion that there was no discrimination at all – it was simply a matter of SACRE inappropriately inviting other groups when the religion was adequately represented. 

 

This led to a consideration about whether the current terms of reference were adequate and members made a number of suggestions about what they would like to see forming part of any updating of them.  Mrs Diamond-Conway said that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

COMPLAINTS PROTOCOL

To be presented by SACRE’s professional advisor.

Minutes:

Due to the lateness of the hour, members agreed to defer this item to the next meeting.

61.

CODE OF CONDUCT

An initial discussion concerning the introduction of a code of conduct for SACRE members.

 

Minutes:

Due to the lateness of the hour, members agreed to defer this item to the next meeting.

62.

NASACRE CONSTITUTION pdf icon PDF 13 KB

Members are requested to read the attached proposals ahead of the meeting.

 

·         Agree and cast your SACRE vote on the new NASACRE constitution.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members had been asked to read through the current NASACRE Constitution and a proposed revised version.  The reason for the change was to reflect the changing role of NASACRE.  Members confirmed that they had considered the new proposals and were in favour of them.

 

Members voted UNANIMOUSLY to accept the new Constitution for NASACRE

 

63.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Any member may raise issues previously notified to either the Chairman or the Clerk (unless the issue relates to a matter arising from the meeting itself or is of an urgent nature, when the Chairman will determine whether to allow it or not). Two items already for members to consider – both from the most recent NASACRE Briefing:

·         Discuss the questions posed about the teaching of Islam in the item on the “Tell MAMA” report.  Members might wish to consider whether a sub-group should be set up to investigate the relevance of the “Tell MAMA” survey to local concerns and how the LA is responding.

·         Do members consider that a training day would be helpful?  If so, do they want to consider when it should be held and what it should cover now or delegate this to a group to oversee and report back at the next meeting?

 

Minutes:

Due to the lateness of the hour, members agreed to defer the contents set out in this item (“Tell MAMA” and an invite for members to decide whether a training day would be helpful) to the next meeting.  Dr Lester had made available booklets for the International Prayer for Peace for members to take with them.  Rabbi Sunderland was thanked by members for opening the Synagogue to SACRE and for generously providing refreshments which had been enthusiastically received.

64.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The proposed date of the Spring Term meeting: Thursday 23 March 2017 and the venue will be the Town Hall, Romford, commencing at 7.00pm.  SACRE is invited to consider agreeing dates for the Summer and Autumn Terms and to note that the election of Chair and Vice Chair is due in autumn 2017.

 

Minutes:

The clerk reminded members that the next meeting of SACRE was scheduled for Thursday 23 March 2017 but that the venue would be either at the Town Hall or, if possible, Hall Mead School.  Confirmation of the venue and start time would be provided nearer the date once details had been confirmed.