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Contact: Kenna-Victoria Martin, Senior Democratic Services Officer Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Educationmeeting held on 15 July 2015.
Before the start of the meeting the Chair informed those present that the previous Chair Jack Misra had sadly passed away.
The Minutes from the previous meeting held on 15 July 2015 were approved, subject to minor typographical errors.
Items of Urgent Business
To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There were no items of urgent business.
Declarations of Interest
There were no interests declared
The Chair of the Council welcomed all to the meeting and explained the meaning behind the additional meeting. He continued to explain that just because a person has no religion; didn’t mean that they were not spiritual.
It was discussed that organised religion within different faiths had different effects on people and within schools Ofsted assessed Collective Worship.
The Associate Adviser for Religious Education explained to the Council that in June 2015 Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead published the pamphlet “A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools”. She continued to advise that their proposals had been widely recognised and had even added to the important debate on the law as it related to Religious Education; Members were advised that the law in relation to RE hadn’t been amended significantly since 1944.
Recommendation 2 “Consideration be given to using the phase ‘Religious and Moral Education’ rather than ‘Religious Education’ in describing this part of the statutory curriculum”
Members discussed the recommendation and in doing so commented that some schools and academies use the name ‘religious studies’ rather than ‘religious education’ as they taught students different religions and beliefs. It was further commented that pupils were taught religion as children this knowledge and understanding in all walks of life and it was about engaging them with the subject.
It was mentioned that to learn about religion you had to learn from religion and different faiths. The Chair of the Council stated that although Collective Worship was taught within schools; it was usually included as part of assemblies and not within the classroom.
The Council discussed how young people were keen to explore and learn and how this could be achieved in a number of different ways including reflection which could be spiritual or religious. It was commented that schools may choose to teach a moral framework so that it was not just included under the external framework of Religion as the two could be very different.
Another member suggested that the subject be renamed to Religious and Cultural Studies but this was considered to be too broad a title.
Recommendation 3 “The Religious Education syllabus in county and voluntary controlled schools should no longer be set by a system of agreed local syllabuses, but by an agreed national syllabus which would have a similar legal status to the requirements of other subjects in the National Curriculum.”
The Associate Adviser for Religious Education sought Members thoughts on the recommendation which asked for a national syllabus to replace the current local syllabus.
The Strategic Lead, School Improvement and Skills commented that he felt the recommendation was controversial; he further stated that he was surprised the decision to have a national syllabus was not already in place.
During discussions Members commented on the following points:
• Should a national framework be established, it would need start with the basics; highlighting the starting points;
• Topics in relation to diversity should be included; and
• A common syllabus should be introduced with a guide produced ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Any Other Business
The Associate Adviser for Religious Education advised all Members of the following:
• Youth Conference was taking place on Thursday 10th December being held at the Culver Centre, commencing at 9.30am – 3.00pm;
• The Chapel at the South Essex College was soon to be completed;
• Thurrock Faith in Action was taking place on Thursday 19th November being held at the Gateway Centre in Stanford Le Hope, commencing at 4.00pm