Minutes for Bexley Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) meeting, Jun 25 2009, 7.30PM official page
Venue: Public Gallery - Bexley Civic Offices. View directions
Contact: Kweku QuagraineItems No. Item
Appointment of Chairman and Vice-Chairman
In accordance with the SACRE Constitution it was required that a Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the next municipal year were nominated. In order for a nomination to be valid the Clerk informed the Committee that a nomination would be required to be seconded. It was additionally stated that a Committee member could nominate themselves, however It was a requirement of Bexley SACRE that the Chairman was a representative of the Council.
A nomination for Chairman was received for Councillor Richard Gillespie from Professor Singh and seconded by Councillor Harbans Buttar. No other nominations were received.
A nomination for Vice-Chairman was received for Ms Carolyn Shulver from Councillor Ron French. This was seconded by Professor Singh. No other nominations were received.
RESOLVED - That Councillor Richard Gillespie and Ms Carolyn Shulver are elected Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Bexley Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, for the municipal year 09/10.
Apologies for Absence and Substitute Members
Apologies were received from Councillor David Hurt, Reverend Lane, Mrs Misra, Captain Nicoll, Mrs Di Sprowles and Ms Jan Thompson.
It was requested by Mrs Dorothy Jones that the minutes reflect that she was present at the meeting. It was additionally requested that the minute that read ‘Bexley Grammar School and Cray Barn School’ in regards to the Multi faith Forum was amended to read ‘Barnes Cray School’.
RESOLVED - That subject to the amendments being made the minutes were agreed as a true reflection of the meeting.
London SACRE Conference
Professor Singh enquired as to whether there were still vacancies for delegates to attend from Bexley SACRE, as if there were still positions available he and Mrs Misra would like to be representatives. This was agreed.
Young People’s Faith Forum Project Bid
Councillor David Leaf requested official feedback in regards to reasons why the bid was unsuccessful, and ways in which a future bid could be better developed. Denise Chaplin directed the Committee’s attention to the tabled response to Bexley’s Young People’s Faith Forum Bid and remarked that the judging panel always made themselves available to give feedback should anyone wish to contact them.
There were no disclosures of interest or dispensation made.
Standing Order 65(6) PDF 40 KB
Retirement of Jim Rouncefield & Local Authority Update
Jim Rouncefield took the opportunity to remark that he had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Bexley Council and working with the SACRE. He subsequently introduced Richard Dix-Pincott to the meeting explaining to members that he was possibly going to inherit SACRE as part of his work portfolio.
The Chairman thanked Jim Rouncefield for all of his work and efforts carried out over the years. Jim Rouncefield was then presented with a card on behalf of Bexley SACRE.
NASACRE AGM Feedback - Executive Update PDF 238 KB
Denise Chaplin informed the Committee that Professor Singh had been elected as a member of the NASACRE Executive Board. She additionally expressed her delight in his appointment as she felt it would broaden the perspective of the Executive Board with the addition of another Non-Christian member. Professor Singh addressed members remarking that he was honoured to take on his new role and thanked all members of the SACRE for their continued support.
The Committee were further notified that Bruce Gill of the Southwark SACRE had been newly elected as the Deputy Chair of NASACRE and would be present at the forthcoming London SACRE AGM.
In relation to the proposed Inter Faith Week highlighted in the Communities and Local Government News Release, Councillor Leaf queried if the Government would be allocating any further resources to SACREs nationwide for activities for the week. Denise Chaplin advised that she had been made aware that there would be no additional resources forwarded to SACREs, the major funding was going to Inter Faith groups. Local communities would be expected to engage in activities which are to link schools and places of worship together.
Spiritual Development - Presentation by Rev Lamont
Reverend Lamont gave a presentation to the Board with reference to her book ‘Understanding Children Understanding God’ on what she understood Children’s Spiritual development to signify. The presentation focused on the themes of the origins of religion, what is meant by spirituality and religion, Children’s Spirituality and Children’s spiritual awareness.
Following on from Reverend Lamont’s presentation the Committee were invited to discuss her findings and ask questions. Councillor Leaf questioned the use of the teaching of the story of Zacchaeus through ‘Godly Play’ in order to develop Children’s Spirituality. He remarked that criticism had been aimed towards Godly Play as it had been seen by some quarters as a methodological principle used for Christian indoctrination. He sought from Reverend Lamont a broader explanation of the practise.
Ronni Lamont explained that the methodology was in fact the opposite of indoctrination. She informed Councillor Leaf that Godly Play was a reflective form of story telling from the Christian faith. Mainly used in church Sunday schools stories are told through the use of visual aids and are highly imaginative and more reflective. At the end of the stories children are asked to talk about their spirituality starting with the phrase ‘I wonder’. The aim is not to ask them what they have learned but to be reflective which allows them to ‘flow’. Reverend Lamont remarked that the process enabled children’s imaginations to go into overload. Councillor Leaf thanked Ronni Lamont for her descriptive explanation.
Councillor Harbans Buttar then gave the Council his perspective of what spirituality meant to him. He remarked that spirituality was an early stage of understanding religion. He went on to remark that from his experience the teaching of Religious Education in schools was not enhancing the understanding for children. Councillor Buttar further remarked that he believed RE Teachers should be highly trained in specific religions, as well as children having the facility to understand their religion within their own language if possible.
Denise Chaplin took the opportunity to remind Councillor Buttar the purpose and context of Reverend Lamont’s presentation . She further explained to Councillor Buttar that the Bexley Agreed Syllabus was written in order for children to learn about the main faiths and learn how a person’s faith can influence their lives. She added that schools are required to provide a learning experience based on the syllabus that supports community cohesion for the school and the local community. It was stressed that it was not the place of schools to nurture children in their religious lives, this was the role and responsibility of the local community, faith groups and the family.
Further contributions were made to the children’s spirituality discussion. Professor Singh remarked that from a Sikhism perspective spirituality is not linked to age or gender. It is believed that people who are not spiritual when they are young, it is not believed that they can become spiritual in their later lives, according to Sikhism it can not be something that can be taught or developed.
RESOLVED - That there would be a meeting of the Spiritual Development Working Party in early September at a date convenient to Rev. Lamont so that this work could be followed up. The Clerk will ask Rev. Lamont for some dates and circulate these.
Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Consultations Conference - Carolyn Shulver
The Vice Chairman Carolyn Shulver remarked to the Committee that she had attended the QCA Conference on the 1st of June, with Mark Chater (the lead for Religious Education at the QCA). She remarked that representatives from SACRE’s from across the country spent three hours looking at four documents on the QCA consultation website, these were RE Guidance the new Primary Curriculum, National Curriculum levels for RE and proposals for PSHE.
Mrs Shulver went on to further state that a large amount of time had been delegated to the proposals for the review of the Primary curriculum. The Committee were informed that the new curriculum would have six areas of learning including Understanding Arts and Physical Wellbeing, it was highlighted however that RE was not mentioned at any stage in the curriculum diagram, the Vice-Chairman remarked that an impression was given that RE was not prominent on the agenda. PSHE however was set to become statutory in all schools from 2011. The Committee were further informed that the former Key Stages had now been rebranded as Early, Middle and Later, the differentiation was set to be in the work load and level of difficulty.
In regards to the Non-Statutory guidance for RE the Vice-Chairman explained that debate was rife at the conference. People queried whether the new guidance maintained the presence of RE compared to other subjects. They felt that this would not be the case.
The law in regards to the teaching of RE would not be changing, there was still no guidance on time allocation in regards to RE, however the right of withdrawal from RE remained the same.
The Committee were informed that the Consultation Document responses should be completed online by the 22nd of July. The Committee were asked to further note that if Bexley SACRE’s current Agreed Syllabus did not fit in with the new Primary Curriculum, along with many SACREs across the country, Bexley would be likely to need to review their guidance.
Denise Chaplin brought the Board’s attention to the QCA website (www.qca.org.uk) highlighting the curriculum reform consultation discussed previously. She advised that the website outlined the extensive documentation and aims of them.
Denise Chaplin remarked that the Spiritual, Moral or Social development was not included. Three main churches (Church of England, the Roman Catholics and the Free Churches) and the Buddhist Society representatives had written to express their concerns at why this had not been included prominently. The Committee were then referred to the background materials including the Rose report and the Areas of Learning.
Primary Curriculum Documents
It was explained that this section outlined the areas where six areas of learning were being consulted. Committee members were urged to take a look at the consultation working their way through it, to then issue a response.
Secondary RE Subject Leaders - Carolyn Shulver
The Vice-Chairman remarked that no progress had been made on holding meetings.
Eileen Vamplew took the opportunity to remark that a Primary Subject Leaders Co-ordinators meeting had taken place. She remarked that the session had been successful and stated that she had liked the informal structure of the session.
RE Today Primary and Secondary Newsletters PDF 362 KB
Members noted the newsletter.
Members noted the newsletter.
Any Other Business
The Chairman notified members of the new Certificate/Diploma in Interreligious Relations being offered by Heythrop College. The College was endorsed by Mrs Dorothy Jones as she once studied there.
Spiritual Development Working Group meetings
Committee members were informed that the dates of the forthcoming Spiritual Development Working Group meetings would be forwarded outside the meeting.
Interfaith Week 15th-21st November
Professor Singh remarked that he hoped to organise activities for all seven days of the week. The Committee were informed that a Faith Seminar was likely to be held at some point within the week. One of the topics to be discussed will include; ‘My faith why is it important to me?’ Professor Singh additionally remarked that speakers from different faith groups would be invited.
The Vice-Chairman enquired whether a day of celebration would be intended to take place. Professor Singh explained that this would be likely along with a reception. This would be earmarked with the Mayor of Bexley expected to attend along with other leaders of Faith Groups from the Borough. Professor Singh went on to state that it would be a requirement to work with organisations such as the Police, the Primary Care Trust, Age Concern and the Local Authority’s NEET (Young people Not in Education, Employment or Training) officers. Along with all groups in the Bexley Community to be involved. He took the opportunity to stress the importance of planning and creating a good week of activities as he advised community cohesion is a vital component of a good community.