Agenda and minutes

SACRE (Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education) - Monday, 15th June, 2020 6.15 pm

Venue: Teams - remote meeting

Contact: Anne Coffey  Clerk

No. Item


Welcome and Apologies

The Chairman will welcome members, guests and new members.  The clerk will extend apologies received.    Stephen/Anne (2mins)



The Chairman welcomed members and guests Sal Thirlway, Assistant Director – Education (WBC), Emily Waddilove (WBC Link Officer for SACRE) and Charlotte McKenna (Primary RE Teacher).  Apologies were received from Michael Freeman, Sukhdev Bansal, Louisa Gurney and guest Carol Cammiss (Director of Children’s Services).

Emily gave guidance on the use of MS Teams, as it was a virtual meeting.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 355 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on November 11th, 2019.


The minutes of the last meeting were approved; proposed by Beth, seconded by Linda.


Matters Arising


Matters arising from the November meeting were all listed on the agenda along with progress / outcomes as follows:



Anne to liase with Emily regarding SACRE members visiting schools to observe an RE lesson.


Angela had mentioned to teachers at a network meeting about SACRE members visiting schools, which was received with enthusiasm. Anne passed details of contacts at two primary schools to SACRE members Christine and Linda, who were interested in visiting them. Unfortunately, the pandemic has delayed any further action on those visits.


Catherine to review Crossing the Bridges Directory regarding monitoring schools/places of worship


Catherine had difficulty getting hold of people at first and then lockdown happened. Catherine spoke about how school visits to places of worship have had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. However, she feels that the current situation, with children learning at home, offers opportunities for learning about worship. Children can be encouraged to think about how they are managing to communicate with family and friends without being in face to face contact with them, and comparing this to worship, which is a form of communication with a being you are not physically with. Catherine has created a resource for her school covering prayer, worship, community and celebration.

She gave us examples of ideas which places of worship could investigate. Stephen suggested sharing these powerful ideas with Angela to explore further and raise at Primary RE Network meetings. Stephen thanked Catherine for her work on this.


Members to let Catherine know of venues for 'Real People Real Faith' project


Catherine couldn't attend either of the 'Real People Real Faith' events so she had asked Ann Andrews if she could forward any links made at both of the filming sessions - either from the hosts or guests. The first venue is covered in the Crossing the Bridges Directory (Maidenhead Synagogue) but Catherine needs to follow up on the second (The Zanaibya Mosque - Tilehurst). Catherine had not heard back from Anne Andrews; Stephen said that Anne had been furloughed and had only just returned to work so he suggested Catherine wait a couple of weeks before resuming contact. Action: If any members have links with these places of worship or any others, please let Catherine know.


Shahid to investigate the status of RE teaching in the secondary school where he is a governor


Emily covered this in item 3a; Shahid had offered to look at RE provision in Bulmershe and David had offered to contact Maiden Erlegh. Emily and Anne discussed it and decided that it would be best to leave both of them to take that forward themselves. Anne advised them of this but the pandemic has delayed further action.


Angela/Anne to raise with Emily the idea of approaching secondary schools or Secondary Federation re collective worship


Emily reported that no action has been taken yet because there is more detail needed from SACRE regarding what information is wanted from secondary schools, also clarification on the purpose/use of the information. If the aim is to improve the practice of schools regarding collective worship, another way would be to find examples of good practice and share. It will be easier to gather good practice from primary schools as they attend network meetings and Angela could raise the topic. Beth pointed out that one aim was to find out how many schools were actually doing any sort of daily act of worship, particularly in secondary schools.  Emily suggested approaching the Secondary Federation as Julian Bushell has been helpful recently. It was agreed that Emily and Angela liaise with Stephen and Beth to come up with questions for a survey. Beth and Stephen agreed that schools won’t be interested until spring. Action: Stephen, Angela, Emily and Beth to come up with questions, share with SACRE, then when schools are back to ‘normal’ , send out and feed back next spring or summer.


Emily referred to Catherine’s ideas, wondering what schools are doing about collective worship while in lockdown.  She is aware that some schools are using video for assemblies.

Chat comments:

Julie noted that Grazeley are doing collective worship everyday; some are pre-recorded, one of which is put on the newsletter. They have used ‘Prayer Spaces in Schools’ resources and have also put in a weekly reflection collective worship.


Catherine queried if it were posssible to approach places of worship who lead assemblies to offer perhaps a one-off online assembly? Many places of worship have explored, and been successful with ways to engage with IT.


Philip informed us that his church is doing a weekly assembly on FB / YouTube and writing daily reflections which are circulated on the staff's daily newsletter; the head asked for this. Philip thinks caring for staff is of course important as well as for the children. Links to the assemblies can be found  or


Catherine said that in her primary school, there is a weekly virtual assembly and in classes staff are looking at the recovery curriculum. School is focusing on reflection, mindfulness, space to be; the transition back into education will have an impact. It will be helpful for schools to ensure there is space in the day for quiet reflection.  Catherine explained it could be small things, and gave an example of children making a paper chain and joining links; it is important to facilitate discussion to ensure children express what they’ve experienced. Stephen asked Angela to disseminate Catherine’s ideas in network meetings.


Sal agreed with Catherine, noting that on children’s return to schools, their emotional, spiritual and mental well-being will be absolutely critical. There will be a greater need for that type of support than for the academic curriculum; lots of children have not seen friends or teachers, they may have suffered bereavements, seen family ill  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3e


Anne to send out NASACRE login details and membership list


Anne sent out the latest NASACRE login details and an updated list of membership contact details in February.


Members to produce ideas of how the SACRE can show its support for action to tackle climate change


Michael had posed this question. Anne reminded members of the suggestion she had put forward previously by email, regarding the SACRE supporting the Stop Ecocide campaign where a group of international lawyers, researchers and diplomats are working to make ecocide an international crime. Not all members had responded so Stephen said that if anyone objected, to let him know by tomorrow and if there were no objections, Anne can go ahead and contact the organisation to offer support. Catherine pointed out that Discovery RE material covers Creation care for each Primary year group, linked to a particular faith group. Action: Anne to contact the Stop Ecocide group and sign up the SACRE as a supporting organisation.


Development plan and budget 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 364 KB

Additional documents:


Emily shared the development plan on screen. Angela covered the 3 main items as follows:-


Membership: Anne updated members on membership vacancies; two vacancies in Group A, (1 Christian and 1 Buddhist), two in Group C (teachers, teaching unions and educationalists). Stephen had given a lecture for RS teachers at Reading University where a couple of NQTs showed interest in joining the SACRE; he will follow them up. Emily can advertise in Education News and Angela can mention it at network meetings. Stephen asked Anne to email the latest group membership list with the minutes and he will follow up the NQTs. Action: Emily to publicise vacancies in Education News, Anne to distribute membership groups list, Stephen to follow up NQT interest.

Shira mentioned that they had done a lot of visits to Roman Catholic schools and could ask around to see if there is someone good that can be recommended. She thinks it would be really good to have specifically a Catholic member,  to have proper diversity among Christian members.

Emily confirmed to Linda that it did not have to be a priest.


Support for secondary schools We support the biennial Secondary Federation conference by providing some funding to pay for speakers for the RE programme.


Extending our training programme to offer additional provision to secondary teachers. Questionnaire replies suggested the best form of support would be twilight training round helping pupils progress at GCSE level   The course was set to go ahead on June 17 but was cancelled because of the pandemic. Tentative dates in November have been planned and we will liaise with schools to arrange this, maybe provisionally online. Stephen said it was good that secondary teachers are engaging, and congratulated Angela on the questionnaire. He queried support around GCSE as secondary schools might have different exam boards. Angela has  provided for teachers in lots of different areas and there are common threads and techniques which could provide a good basis for the twilight session. Angela is happy for SACRE members to attend.


Budget update


Members were provided with the budget sheet, which Emily talked through. Allocation had been the same, £6,800. Entries in blue font were those she was unsure about, e.g. whether we share subject leader training costs with another LA;  IT support for tonight’s webcast costing £60-70. However, due to the virtual nature of working at the moment, we are saving on travel expenses and the NASACRE conference was cancelled due to the pandemic. The budget is in line with the development plan, everything costed. It is assumed we will give £900 to the SACRE Pan-Berkshire Hub again, though not confirmed. Almost all monies are allocated, there is about £350 remaining. £250 has been allocated for the Secondary Federation INSET day RE programme.This could potentially be increased using the funds that are not yet allocated.


Stephen asked if the LA would claw back money at the end of the financial year if there is underspending due to the pandemic. Sal replied  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Feedback from teacher networks and training opportunities pdf icon PDF 448 KB


Angela reported that she runs one primary RE network meeting per term and so far has done the autumn and spring sessions. 15 teachers attended the autumn event where they looked at assessment in primary RE, which was well received. The spring session in February had only 6 attendees because there was a virus going round. They worked on planning and preparing for Ofsted, and good practice around the 3 Is (Intent, Implementation and Impact) and a deep dive into RE. There were lots of materials shared and teachers were pleased. The summer meeting was due on June 23rd; which did not take place because of lockdown but teachers have been provided with a pack for distance learning, and materials about a virtual visit to a place of worship. On July 6th there will be an informal online meeting to discuss the contents of the pack and Angela will now bring up some of the collective worship aspects discussed here. The meetings are going well and all are currently happy to attend All Saints Primary School. The venue can be changed if people prefer but meetings may also have to continue online.



National updates relating to education and RE pdf icon PDF 681 KB


A detailed document was supplied and Angela covered the main items as follows:-


HMI - There is a new HMI lead for RE, Dr Richard Kueh. 


SACREs Project - Claire Clinton, an RE Adviser, is setting up a pilot project around Recommendation 8 of the Commission on RE report in partnership with NASACRE, relating to SACREs. Angela has asked for more details in case Wokingham SACRE is interested in participating. It is a two year project involving the University of Oxford, researching SACRE support, budgets, and action research with 8 SACREs to trial working as an Advisory Network for Religion and Worldviews. There is not much information at present; Angela can circulate info via Emily or Anne when more is available. Stephen thinks we should sign up and be part of the pilot as we provide amazing support for Wokingham children, with the ‘Crossing the Bridges’ project, the ‘Real People, Real Faith’ project and  the locally agreed syllabus, as well as working with 5 other authorities. Emily has a concern about time commitment needed, who would be involved, impact on budget, etc.. Stephen agreed that we need to know what is involved and once we do, we will be able to know if we can commit to participating.

19.27 Graham left the meeting.


Online Resources - Other items cover various events and resources, including CPD for teachers; a national leadership programme which Angela will circulate to teachers; an Open University course on religious literacy; NATRE running an RE chat on Twitter where teachers meet on Monday evenings to share ideas and best practice - we could encourage our teachers to participate; opportunities from Culham St Gabriel’s for teachers to become involved in RE research; NATRE resources across a wide spectrum of different providers, updated every day; resources from the UK Council for Subject Associations; BBC bitesize daily lessons as well as film resources and resources from the Interfaith network.


GCSEs - will be awarded differently this year. Information is on the link provided. Any changes will be reflected there; students in years 11 & 13 will have grades awarded. Next year, students currently in years 10 & 12 will hopefully be sitting exams as usual, hopefully in 2021. Teachers’ unions are thinking of how to proceed as students have lost contact time with teachers.


New RE Teachers - The number of trainee teachers for RE is healthy, 40% of new PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) students have become religious education teachers. There is also funding for subject knowledge enhancement courses for those who haven’t done an RE or theology degree.


Wales is diverging from England  - the Welsh Minister for Education proposed renaming RE as ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’ and removing the right of withdrawal. Significant changes are proposed, and a complex consultation is taking place.



SACRE updates - national and local pdf icon PDF 224 KB


The SACRE Pan-Berkshire Hub is still doing well but the Real People Real Faith project has been delayed due to the pandemic and will probably not be completed until around this time next year. Stephen said that the Hub project videos are really good quality and it is a shame the project has been delayed as it is a powerful resource for teachers and young people. He is keen to continue with the Hub but has a concern about whether Reading can.


The ‘Inspiring RE’ conference at Milton Keynes has a tentative date of October 14.


Angela reported that she had received additional teaching resources lists from NASACRE which she sent to Emily and Anne to distribute to schools and share with SACRE members. Action: Anne to distribute NASACRE resources to schools and SACRE members.





Dates of next meetings

Autumn meeting to be confirmed, Monday November 9th.


Monday November 9th is the provisional date for the next SACRE meeting. This can move if possible, but needs to be kept to after half term so Stephen and Beth can attend the Hub meeting beforehand. It may have to be online again, depending on the pandemic situation. Stephen asked Anne for spring and summer term dates but Anne will need to investigate and cross reference Council meeting dates and faith events to avoid any clashes. Action: Anne to inform Stephen and members of SACRE meeting dates for 2021.





Anju asked if there was any way SACRE could do something relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement. Angela said that NATRE had issued a statement on BLM, which could be shared with teachers. Anju referred to our discussions about collective worship and although it is for Christianity she wondered if the SACRE could do something to involve all religions,. Stephen asked Angela to share resources mentioned. Stephen is writing a scheme of work which he will share, looking at black history and culture in a positive light, eg explorers, astronauts, fashion designers, engineers, musicians, literature, etc..  David suggested that pupils as well as teachers need to have resources and that the SACRE needs to visit schools and/or send something out to demonstrate our positive support. Shira expressed concern about being political, as there are some aspects of BLM in UK which are political. The BLM movement in the US had a mixed relationship with the Jewish community. Shira suggested that a positive idea would be to open up a conversation about experiences of racism which children may have had, as many children are oblivious to racism. They would learn from each other and increase their empathy; possibly more a PSHE matter but a valuable learning. Stephen reassured Shira that  the SACRE would not endorse visiting specific websites or endorse BLM as a campaign group. There will be resources available and it would be useful to suggest that teachers review their schemes of work around prejudice and discrimination, highlighting antisemitism, Islamaphobia etc..

David agreed we should not endorse the campaign group but should emphasise the wrongness of discrimination on any grounds and reinforce positive black role models identified in the curriculum. Groups or organisations where people from different religious backgrounds work together would also be positive examples to promote.


Shahid said that as a lot of young people learn via social media, could SACRE have a YouTube channel? It could be available to staff and students and resources would not be scattered. Stephen responded that at the last hub meeting there was discussion about using Google Drive to upload resources where teachers could have access. YouTube is a good idea but how would we manage it? Stephen will take this to the next hub meeting. Maybe we could have a hub-wide platform and share all resources across Berkshire. Action: Stephen to take the resources platform idea to the Hub for discussion.


Beth asked if the LA is thinking of doing anything about BLM in schools? Sal replied that the Chief Executive made a statement in respect of BLM; Sal has communicated with heads about this in daily updates, ensuring they’re aware of how to communicate with pupils and staff following recent events and respond to ongoing events. Sal said that any additional supportive information that the SACRE wanted to share with schools would be welcome.


Emily added that she has also compiled a list of anti-racism materials for schools, including more specifically about recent events for older students, which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.