What is a SACRE?
A Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, legally constituted by a Local Authority with the responsibility for overseeing Religious Education and Collective Worship in community, VC (RE only not CW), foundation schools without a religious character and trust schools. Academies, Free schools & VA schools lie outside the SACRE remit, but a good SACRE will try to establish links with any of these schools in its’ area.
Who can sit on SACRE?
A SACRE is comprised of four groups; to be quorate there should be at least one representative from each group present and each group has one vote in a formal voting situation. There may also be co-opted members. They may not vote.
Group A: Christian denominations and other religions and their denominations, reflecting the principal religious traditions of the area (and specified in the SACRE’s constitution).
Group B: The Church of England with representatives nominated by the diocese.
Group C: Teacher and Head teacher associations invited by the Local Authority.
Group D: The Local Authority – ideally reflecting the range of political viewpoints across the area. This group may include representative of school governing bodies.
What does SACRE do?
As the name suggests, SACRE is an advisory body. Its main aim is to advise the Local Authority on matters related to RE & CW. The main focus of a SACRE and therefore each SACRE member is to support the learning and development of children in regard to RE and CW. The SACRE is responsible for the production of the Locally Agreed Syllabus for RE (although the actual writing of the syllabus is undertaken by the Agreed Syllabus Conference, which may or may not be made up of SACRE members, but which has the same basic structure). The SACRE is also responsible for “determinations” – deciding whether a particular community school can change collective worship away from the current requirement to be “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”.
The Locally Agreed Syllabuses found in the Diocese of Oxford can be found here.
How can SACRE fulfil this role?
The SACRE carries out its function by advising the Local Authority. The SACRE should monitor provision for RE & CW, offer advice and training to teachers and head teachers and share good practice. The SACRE should hold the LA to account for provision for teacher training for RE and ensure that there is sufficient funding and training available when a new syllabus is launched. Activities may include: requesting a review of the Agreed Syllabus, responding to complaints about RE or CW provision, examining data on RE, reading OFSTED reports for comments on RE, CW and SMSC, visiting schools or organising events to promote good practice. Requesting a dedicated section of the LA website may be a good platform from which to deliver guidance and support for schools, as well as advertising agendas and minutes, all of which should be in the public domain.
What are the responsibilities of individual members?
Individual members, particularly of groups A & B, are to be representatives of their faith tradition and avoid negative stereotyping. This does not mean that genuine differences of opinion cannot be expressed, as of course this is the basis or good RE. It is important that members attend meetings and send apologies if this is not possible. Contributing and networking are important facets of the role.
How often should SACRE meet?
There is no legal stipulation about the frequency of meetings, but they should be frequent enough to allow SACRE to carry out the requirements or its role. Thinking about where or when to meet may affect the efficacy of the group. It is the responsibility of the Local Authority to provide funding and clerking to enable the group to function and ensure that minutes and agendas are made public.
Further information is available through the NASACRE website: http://www.nasacre.org.uk
This document can be downloaded below