Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of People
5 a) Initial Convening of the Agreed Syllabus Conference
The Education Act 1993 required the Local Authority (LA) to institute a review of its locally agreed syllabus every five years after the completion of its last review. The last revision of the Agreed Syllabus had been issued to schools in 2009 and at their meeting of 13 November 2013 SACRE resolved to write to the Cabinet Member, Learning and Skills, highlighting the need for a review and seeking approval to set up an Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC) to undertake this review.
SACRE had previously received a copy of this correspondence and the Cabinet Member’s approval to convene the ASC.
Members noted the high regard that the original Staffordshire Agreed Syllabus had. This had been produced in 1992/93, largely led by Paul Bellingham, and had remained in tact with slight adjustments for over twenty years, a testament to its quality.
Since the last syllabus revision in 2009 there had been a number of major changes in education which had a direct impact on Religious Education (RE). These included:
a) from September 2013 a new curriculum would be introduced to all schools (Key Stages (KS) 1-4) with a clear focus on slimming down the curriculum to allow for more cross curriculum dimensions and inter-disciplinary studies and the removal of levels of attainment. RE needed to take account of these changes in order to play a full and active role in the new curriculum;
b) in 2012 the REC completed a review of the current National Non-Statutory Framework for RE.
SACRE considered the level of review they wished to undertake and the cost implications. If undertaking a more radical review Members wished to ensure the syllabus had the flexibility to be purchased and used by other authorities whilst being pertinent to Staffordshire. It was understood that Staffordshire teachers would welcome a syllabus that included more supportive materials to help support their teaching and work planning. This was particularly important for the non RE specialist teaches of RE.
If a more radical review was to be undertaken it would be necessary to have officer time and support to carry out the work needed. Lat Blaylock (a well respected expert in RE and part of the RE Today team) had been approached to give an estimate of cost and process should SACRE choose to use his expertise in reviewing the Staffordshire syllabus. Lat had a successful background in this field.
The funding required for this review would be between £15,000 and £20,000 in total. Whilst the SACRE budget could fund part of this there would be a significant shortfall and it was suggested that the Cabinet Member, Learning and Skills, be approached in the first instance. A business case would then be produced for Entrust for any further funding required.
It was proposed that SACRE convene an agreed syllabus conference to request the Local Authority review the agreed syllabus. A formal vote was taken and each committee recorded a vote in favour of convening the conference.
RESOLVED – That; a) SACRE convene an agreed syllabus conference and request that the Local Authority reconsider its agreed syllabus; and,
b) the recommendations of the agreed syllabus conference be conveyed to the Entrust Consultant and the LA for amendments if necessary.
[Note by Clerk: The SACRE meeting was formally closed whilst the Agreed Syllabus Conference was convened. Once the Agreed Syllabus Conference had concluded the SACRE meeting formally re-opened.]