Venue: Executive Room, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale
Contact: Democratic Services 6011
Welcome and Apologies
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introductions were made accordingly.
The following apologies for absence were reported:-
Councillor Haydn Trollope
Councillor Jonathan Millard
Ms. K. Mackay
Mr. J. Kent
Mr. L. Holding
Mr. C. James
To receive Minutes and Actions from meeting held Thursday, 15th February, 2018
Consideration was given to the minutes and actions arising from the meeting held on 15th February, 2018.
There were no actions arising from the minutes.
It was, therefore, AGREED that the Minutes be approved.
To receive an update on SACRE constitution, membership, attendance and the letter from WG re: Humanist representation on SACREs
The RE Adviser reported that a considerable amount of work had been undertaken since the last meeting to review and fill the vacant positions on SACRE. A few vacancies remained and further correspondence had been forwarded to various faith and belief organisations seeking expressions of interest to fill these remaining vacancies – responses were still awaited.
In addition, it was noted that correspondence also recently received from Kirsty Williams A.M./Cabinet Secretary for Education confirming that from a constitutional perspective the appointment of representatives from non-religious belief systems onto SACRE was permitted and would comply with current legislation.
The RE Adviser, therefore, suggested that the co-opted representative from Wales Humanists be appointed as a full Member of SACRE with voting rights.
Ms Kathy Riddick confirmed her acceptance of this appointment.
The RE Advisor gave a presentation on the role and responsibilities of a SACRE.
It was noted that the main function of SACRE – Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education was to advise the local authority on such matters connected to religious worship in schools and religious education to be given in accordance with an agreed syllabus.
The presentation covered the following areas:-
- What was Religious Education
- What happens in Religious Education
- Religious Education and the Curriculum
- Status of RE
- Local Responsibility
- Composition and Role of SACRE
- Agreed Syllabus
- The Responsibilities of the Local Authority in Respect of SACRE
- Impact of the Curriculum for Wales 2022 on RE
It was noted copies of the presentation slides would be circulated to Members following the meeting. The new version of the SACRE Handbook would also be circulated once it became available.
For clarity the RE Adviser outlined the process to be adopted for dealing with complaints and advised that in the first instance any complaints should be directed to the school governing body. However, on occasions it was noted that it was a possibility that SACRE may receive directly complaints from members of the public.
To receive the SACRE Annual Report 2017-2018 and to consider the 2018-2019 Annual Report
Consideration was given the SACRE Annual Report 2017/2018.
It was noted that the report related to the work of SACRE and activity undertaken the previous year 2017/2018.
The RE Adviser stated that a short report would be produced to capture the activity and work undertaken for the current year 2018/2019.
The Strategic Education Improvement Manager requested that the report also acknowledge the extensive democratic support that had been provided to SACRE over recent months.
It was FURTHER AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the 2017/2018 SACRE Annual Report be agreed.
To receive the report on Curriculum Development and the Welsh Government consultation on proposals to ensure access to the full curriculum for all learners.
Consideration was given to the report of the RE Advisor, whereupon:-
The meeting was advised that Welsh Government had produced a draft Curriculum for Wales 2022 which included RE and this was currently out to consultation with various stakeholders. A cross region working group had been established and had provided feedback on the draft curriculum. Currently this feedback was being considered by curriculum feedback pioneers and it was anticipated that the Curriculum for Wales 2022 would be published by the end January 2020.
In addition, work on drafting the RE Framework was on-going and this framework would be published in draft for consultation in January 2020. It was noted that an additional meeting of SACRE would need to be convened prior to the next scheduled meeting in March 2020 to discuss and consider the RE Framework in detail.
Welsh Government Consultation
Welsh Government had recently consulted on the white paper ‘Our National Mission: A Transformational Curriculum’ which sought views on:-
- Removing the parental right to withdraw from RE (and RSE)
- A change of name for RE – the preferred name was Religions and Worldviews
A discussion, thereupon, ensued regarding the following proposal:-
(1)Remove the Parental Right to Withdraw from RE (RSE was not discussed as this was not the remit of SACRE)
If the above was agreed, should this right be withdrawn as part of new Curriculum or implemented in September 2020
It was noted that the rationale for the proposal was to ensure from an equalities perspective that all learners were provided with access to the full curriculum from 3 – 16 years (this age range was previously 4 – 18 years).
With regard to the implications of withdrawing parental rights, the RE Adviser reported that a number of cases had been deliberated in the Human Rights Court and she, thereupon, gave an example of a recent case that had been heard. It was noted that the courts had established benchmarks and had ruled that RE must be taught in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner.
There were a number of points that needed to be considered in respect of this proposal:-
- A clause was included within legislation which stipulated that RE was to be in the main in line with Christian traditions. If this was the case how could RE be taught in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner?
- In addition, if faith schools were teaching traditional religion how again could this then be objective, critical and pluralistic?
The following views were, thereupon, expressed:-
ØThe representative of the Bahá’í Faith reported that this proposal had recently been considered at a forum of all faith representatives and had been agreed as long as children had access to a variety of world religions.
ØThe representative of the Church in Wales clarified that schools were no longer referred to as ‘faith schools’but should be referred to as ‘schools of a religious character’ – the Church in Wales was very ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider Blaenau Gwent School Inspection Reports.
Consideration was given to the synopsis of School Inspection reports – December 2017 to May 2018.
It was noted that not all Estyn reports commented on spiritual development and if no comments were included this indicated that the school was meeting its requirements.
The representative of the Wales Humanists said that the Estyn Inspection Framework was currently out for consultation and the Humanists had submitted a response on this.
The RE Adviser said that she would also write a response on behalf of SACRE based on the response submitted by the Humanist group.
In reply to a request regarding the trends and numbers of pupils taking RE the RE Adviser undertook to pursue the matter.
FUTHER AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the synopsis information relation to school inspections be noted.
Consideration was given to the report of the RE Adviser.
The EAS had invested in building the capacity of schools and educational settings within the region over the last four years to enable more collaborative ways of working. This Learning Network School approach was enabling teachers and leaders to learn from each other, try out new approaches and engage with educational research as the backdrop for improvement.
Currently there were two EAS lead schools for LNS Religious Education were Ysgol Gwynllyw (Torfaen) and Bassaleg Comprehensive School (Newport). The leads would provide Professional Learning events and bespoke support to secondary schools throughout the region with the main focus being GCSE including need to raise standards at key stage 3.
Four training and collaborative working events had been arranged throughout the year.
The Church in Wales representative reminded Members of Farmington Scholarships that provided professional learning relating to RE and the Jerusalem Trust Funding. The representative also offered to provide support if required.
The RE Adviser said that she would share this information with SACRE via the newsletter and with the Learning Network Schools.
FURTHER AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the dates and events for the Learning Network Schools be noted and this information circulated accordingly.
To receive information about Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.
SACRE considered the report of the RE Adviser.
The report gave details of the date and theme of the Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 – 27th January. A regional event would be organised in January 2020 and the EAS would also be organising an event for schools.
In reply to a question, the Strategic Education Improvement Manager undertook to investigate if the local authority was able to provide funding for the events.
The RE Adviser stated that she would include information relating to the events in the newsletter.
FURTHER AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the date and theme of the Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 be noted.
SACRE News Bulletin
To consider items from members for the next SACRE News Bulletin.
It was AGREED that the following be included in the next SACRE News Bulletin:-
- Details of Holocaust Memorial Events including EAS events
- 75 Flames Trust Project
- Recent, past and future events
- Understanding Christianity article by the Church in Wales
- Assemblies for all information
- Church in Wales Education Day
- Aide Memoir on School Responsibilities
The deadline of submission of items to the RE Adviser by the end of the school term.
To consider the recommendations of the Estyn Thematic Report for Religious Education.
AGREED that this item be included on the next SACRE agenda to consider the recommendations made within the report and how SACRE may work towards addressing them.
Consideration was given to the notes of the WASACRE meeting held on 28th June, 2019.
It was reported that a considerable amount of work had been undertaken by WASACRE on a national level around the national curriculum, RE framework and Sally Holland the Children’s Commissioner for Wales had attended the last meeting.
Work was also on-going with Welsh Government around changes for RE. It was noted that Welsh Government had recently assured WASACRE that funding to support professional learning would be made available for the new curriculum.
It was AGREED that the note of the WASACRE meeting be received.
Future Wasacre Meetings and Confirm Representation
The following WASACRE Meetings were noted:-
- Autumn – Ceredigion – 21st November, 2019 – it was noted that the representative of the Bahá’í Faith would be unable to attend.
- Spring – Merthyr Tydfil - TBC
- Summer – Gwynedd – TBC
The RE Adviser undertook to confirm the dates for the Spring and Summer meetings.
SACRE Meetings 2019/2020
To confirm dates of the SACRE meetings for 2019 – 2020:-
Thursday, 5th March, 2020 at 9.30 am
Wednesday, 5th May, 2020 at 9.30 am
The following SACRE date was confirmed:-
- Tuesday, 17th March, 2020 at 1.00 p.m.
- The date of the May meeting to be discussed at the March meeting.
- Venues to be confirmed.
The Chair thanked everyone for attending and declared the meeting closed.