Agenda and minutes

Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education - Tuesday, 28th June, 2016 5.30 pm

Venue: St Edwards Primary School, Havering Drive, Romford RM1 4BD

Contact: Grant Soderberg: 01708 433091  Email:

No. Item



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


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors, Joshua Chapman, Dilip Patel, Stephanie Nunn and Wendy Brice-Thompson, Mr Kevin Walsh, Mrs Dawn Ladbrook and Mr Tariq Mahmood


The Chairman welcomed Mr Barry Smith who had just accepted the nomination of the United Reformed Church to represent it on SACRE.  It had been a number of years since the URC had had a voice in the Advisory Council. 


The Chairman then welcomed Julia Diamond-Conway to the meeting.  She had been invited by the Education Service to take over the role of Professional Advisor.  Mrs Diamond-Conway was part of RE-Today and said that she was looking forward to working with SACRE and the Education Service and develop its role going forward.  To assist her with this, RE-Today had volunteered the support of Mrs Weston as well as she was familiar with the area and had intimate knowledge and experience of the borough’s religious educational needs.




To welcome guests and visitors to the meeting


The Chairman welcomed Marlene Wylie who had come from the Diocese of Chelmsford to observe what took place at a SACRE meeting. 




To agree as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 3 March 2016 and to authorise the Chairman to sign them and to address any matters arising therefrom.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 3 March 2016 were agreed and signed by the Chairman.  There were no matters arising from that meeting.  There were no matters arising.




To receive oral and written reports from the Primary and Secondary phase representatives and to comment on them or propose action as necessary.


Mrs Diamond-Conway gave her first presentation to the Advisory Council.  The full text of the report is appended to the minutes.  Members were energised by the enthusiasm which Mrs Diamond-Conway presented her report and asked a number of questions about how SACRE could take a more prominent role in promoting RE across the borough.  She mentioned in particular that she intended to provide teachers with detail about the “G-dly Play” teaching technique. Both Advisors said that they would need access to the Portal in order to access the Agreed Syllabus and fulfil their role. 


In respect of the changes being introduced to GCSE and “A” Level RE, Mrs Weston informed members that Edexcel had now been accredited and joined the other major examining boards. She suggested that an item should be added to the agenda for October to focus on the subject content for all religions at GCSE and members agreed. 



DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT - 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To receive the draft Annual Report cor consideration and, if approved, to adopt it.


The draft Annual Report was considered by the Advisory Council.  Mrs Weston raised an issue concerning the low numbers of pupils being entered for the RE courses at certain schools as shown in the accompanying statistics.  This might indicate that schools were not fulfilling the requirements of the Agreed Syllabus or in Academy Schools, their funding agreement. Members were concerned that if pupils were not studying RE – a mandatory provision – it begged the question about what they were doing.  It was suggested that a letter be drafted (by the Professional Advisors and signed by the Chair) which after discussion with the Education Service could be sent on SACRE’s behalf enquiring from head-teachers how RE was being studied in their schools.  Members felt that the Education Service needed to be asked about what actions it was appropriate to take to ensure that all schools applied the requirement to provide religious education. It was further agreed that the Professional Advisors would pursue the matter with the Education Service and that the clerk would also raise the matter.  A report would be prepared and presented to SACRE at its next meeting.


Members asked whether further training sessions after the January 2016 one could be recorded in in the Report.  It was agreed that the clerk would contact the Education Service and enquire and, if there were, would add them to the final version being sent to Council in July.


One member raised concerns about the quality of teaching in schools relating to Islam.  The Advisory Council felt that this highlighted an area where it could become more involved and, with a closer working relationship with the Education Service, provide expertise, advice and support for the on-going training of teachers in order to assist them in delivering the RE Syllabus effectively and without prejudice or discrimination.


There was discussion about the Education Portal and whether bulletins were monitored in any way.  Who was it that read them and how could it be verified that the information contained within them was being implemented?  Members were informed that bulletins were e-mailed to schools and this raised the question of how it could be audited to see who actually received these bulletins and how they were applied.  Various ideas were put forward, but it became clear that a greater understanding about how it worked was necessary to ensure that proposals which would be effective were made.


There was discussion about the use of teachers to lead training for others, but this evoked a strong reaction which drew attention to the already over-stretched work-load of the teaching profession and asserting that it would be unreasonable to give them even more work to do.  A different approach needed to be found.


The clerk said that the Annual Report would be a public document once published in the agenda.  It was also available on the Council’s website and members suggested that the Council’s Communications Team could be asked to make a press statement to ensure that it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.



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).


The clerk informed the Advisory Council that he had intended to add two reports to the agenda.  He said that he did not want to go into detail but that on the advice from the Legal Service he had held them back for further consideration, but that it was probable that at least one of them would be on the next agenda.




To set a date for the [??] Term meeting and, if possible, set a date for future meetings.


The clerk reminded members that the next meeting of SACRE was Thursday 20 October and would not be in the Town Hall as usual, but at the Romford Synagogue.  The start time was yet to be confirmed.  The meeting following was scheduled for Thursday 23 March 2017 and that would be in the Town Hall commencing at 7.00pm.