Anthony Doudle, presented the SACRE Annual Report.
In the presentation and discussion the following main points were made:
· SACRE was Islington Council’s statutory function to deliver Religious Education (RE) in Islington. RE was a compulsory element of the curriculum, however unlike other subjects, there were no national guidelines and guidelines were instead determined by the local authority.
· Covid had impacted on the ability of SACRE and schools to deliver RE. During the first lockdown the national curriculum was suspended and there was a focus on childcare. In the first three weeks, the School Improvement Team provided 18,000 printed home learning packs which included RE materials.
· When some years returned to school, there was a focus on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. In September 2020, when there was a full return to schools there were social distancing restrictions and bubbles. Assemblies and school trips were restricted. Schools had responded well to delivering collective worship, which was a moment in the day to reflect on a word, phrase or story, virtually.
· SACRE provided an agreed syllabus and scheme of work. 40% schools in Islington were not required to follow this as they were Academies, Church of England or Catholic Schools.
· The 2021 GCSEs were currently being quality assured and would be available in early 2022.
· One role of SACRE was to assess the quality of RE provision in schools. The majority of schools in Islington were rated good.
· There had been no complaints about RE and no requests for withdrawal.
· There had been two Freedom of Information requests and these had been responded to within the statutory time frame.
· The agreed syllabus was last set in 2017 and would be reviewed in time for the new agreed syllabus for the next five years to start in September 2022. The officer suggested that collective worship could be reviewed as part of this with discussions with schools taking place and additional guidance provided.
· During the pandemic there had been two virtual SACRE meetings. Another meeting had been postponed to the Autumn term.
· In response to a member’s question about SACREs work regarding Relationships and Sex Education, the officer stated that SACRE worked with families and young people to provide reassurance and ensure that issues of faith, science and relationships were clear. It was important to show parents the content of the Relationship And Sex Education curriculum.
· Work would take place with governors to help them understood their statutory role in ensuring the Equality Act was evidenced in the curriculum.
· A member asked about how collective worship in schools was inspected and the officer stated as every local authority had a different agreed syllabus, it was likely that inspectors would speak to pupils in relation to difference, diversity, whether they went on educational trips to places of faith and inspectors would also look at PSHE before making comments.
· In response to a member’s question the officer stated that pupils did not learn about faiths independently but through the agreed syllabus, they would work through a learning question which would pull in faiths and show interconnections. Classroom displays were regularly changed and the Education Library Service provided artefacts which pupils could use in a respectful way. Consideration would be given to ensuring that celebrations had the same profile so were treated in an equal and respectful way.
· In response to a member’s question about early years and teaching about minority faiths, the officer stated that the scheme of work covered Early Years to Key Stage 5. There was a need to work with Early Years settings to ensure they were taking advantage of resources. There were gaps in membership on SACRE, especially of minority faiths. Work to fill gaps had begun prior to the pandemic and would be restarted.
· In response to a member’s question about how many schools had achieved the RE Quality Mark (REQM), the officer stated that he would obtain this figure. Work on this had been stopped during the pandemic but would be restarted.
1) That the report be noted.
2) That members be advised of the number of schools with the RE Quality Mark.