County Councillor Boyd Elliot to lead
Reverend Ken Johnson, Secretary to the Nottinghamshire County SACRE, delivered a presentation on the potential collaborative option for the City and County SACRE to work together to determine an agreed RE Syllabus. The presentation is circulated with the initial publication of the minutes.
The following points were highlighted:
(a) Consultant in Religious Education, Lat Blaylock, has considered the current syllabus (which has to be reviewed every 5 years) and determined that whilst overall sound, there are 6 areas which need ‘light touch’ revision. These include:
(i) updating outcomes and assessments,
(ii) inclusion of the latest OFSTED requirements,
(iii) responding to the CoRE report’s call for RE entitlements and a national plan,
(iv) including the new requirements at GCSE RS,
(v) a clearer and broader approach to planning,
(vi) recognition of Humanists and updating how the syllabus deals with non-religious world views;
(b) It is suggested that the City and County work together to form a statutorily required ‘Agreed Syllabus Conference’ (ASC) potentially consisting of teachers and faith representatives, possibly to work with a consultant, to produce and recommend an agreed RE syllabus to each LA, having considered the points identified in the presentation;
(c) A budget is required for the work, especially if a consultant is to be engaged, and it is suggested that it is sourced equally from each Local Authority (LA) and not the SACRE. A budget will need to be confirmed by September 2019;
(d) The work needs to be completed by June 2020, with a proposed launch date of up to early July 2020 for implementation during the September 2020 term;
(e) The anticipated cost of a consultant is within the region of £7.5k with additional funds required for teacher time cover, meeting venue and expense, production costs and a launch event (which may be self-financing).
Following the presentation, County Councillor Boyd Elliot, addressed the meeting stating that a decision on the way forward was not required today but that the options available raised several questions.
City and County SACRE members in attendance provided the following contribution, with responses to questions provided Ken Johnson:
(f) The syllabus is well developed with regard to faith information and topics but further first-hand input from different faiths, including examples, could influence the end result, form which schools decide how to approach and adapt as appropriate to their areas;
(g) Suggestions of how pupil consideration and discussion of how common themes are found in different faiths could be presented as stand-alone teaching examples;
(h) The proposal of the City and County SACREs working together is welcomed and should be recommended to the respective LAs, but it is up to them as to how it should proceed, ensuring that any changes fit with the requirements of the ASC;
(i) Although there are other consultants who could be engaged, the consultant named in the presentation, Lat Blaylock, is very experienced and respected and has successfully undertaken similar work for other SACREs. Other consultants could be considered;
(j) It would be good to have a range of different faith group representatives on the ASCs but this may need to be on a voluntary basis due to the financial impact on schools of needing to find cover for teachers, and potentially the cost of a consultant;
(k) The ASC meeting commitment is likely to be 3 non-consecutive days, potentially in October, January and April, but this could be less and may be flexible;
(l) As OFSTED is emphasising the importance of school based subjects, it may be beneficial for schools if the syllabus includes a focus on reading and literature;
(m) At the NSACRE AGM, the suggestion was made that SACREs write to schools to explain how OFSTED is changing, and ask how the SACREs can help schools meet the statutory requirements. A template letter was suggested which may be helpful;
(n) Savings could be made by only producing an electronic copy of the end product and not circulating hard copy which incurs print and postage costs. Many teachers and schools would prefer an electronic copy which could be stamped/licensed so it is not easily shared with other schools without it being obvious that it is licensed;
(o) NSACRE had asked whether the agreed syllabus should be the property of those who paid for it, or should it be available to everyone? The general feeling is that it belongs to those who paid for it;
(p) The agreed syllabus could offer supplements of additional religious material for specific religions;
(q) The syllabus needs to be tweaked, but its profile needs to be raised.