These resources have been designed to support SACREs in undertaking their work and developing their practice.

Documents in this section are in pdf format. These documents will open automatically. They can also be saved.

The SACRE self evaluation tool is in Word format. This documents should download automatically and can also be saved and personalised by your SACRE.

SACRE Chair

document which looks at the appointment of a SACRE Chair, the roles and tasks.

The appointment of the Chair
As SACREs are bodies appointed by the local authority, in principle the local authority has the right to appoint the Chair of SACRE. Where the local authority decides not to exercise this right, SACREs appoint their own Chair. The agreement about this at a local level, including the process for the appointment of the Chair of your SACRE, and the eligibility of candidates, should be clearly set out in the SACRE’s Constitution. Where the SACRE’s Constitution shows the Chair can be elected, the SACRE needs to have an open and fair process for making this appointment.

The roles of the Chair
There are a number of key roles that the Chair performs, grouped under three broad headings:

  • Specific
  • General
  • Strategic

Specific
The specific role of the Chair is to ensure that the SACRE fulfils its statutory duties and responsibilities. To do this the Chair will need to have a clear grasp of the nature and make up of SACRE, what it is responsible for and what it can do beyond its statutory functions.
The Chair should also take a leading role in SACRE’s on-­‐going process of self-­‐evaluation and development.

During SACRE meetings it is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the meeting. This includes making sure that the business of the meeting is dealt with and that all members can participate and contribute fully. The Chair also has the responsibility to decide on any involvement from non-­‐members who are present, for example, experts who might be brought in to advise SACRE on a specific matter pertinent to an agenda item being discussed; likewise, if it is deemed necessary, to decide when someone should be asked to leave the meeting or be removed from it.

General
The Chair of SACRE is responsible, with the clerk and the professional officer, for constructing the agenda for each meeting. This includes deciding on items where the press and public might need to be excluded if they are present.

In the meeting, it is the Chair’s role to sign the minutes of the previous meeting as a true and accurate record as well as to ensuring that any actions resulting from the minutes have actually taken place. If the Chair needs a mandate to act on SACRE’s behalf before the next meeting, that should be sought at the meeting being chaired.

If there are issues relating to inefficiencies in the timeliness of notice for meetings, the publication of agendas and reports, the provision of funding or support or the venue of SACRE’s meetings, it is the Chair’s place to bring this up with the most senior paid official of the local authority.

Strategic
In many ways the Chair of SACRE is its public face and may be asked to represent SACRE at Council meetings or public events, including interfaith events. In this way the Chair of SACRE becomes a champion for religious education and collective worship in the local authority and its schools.

Therefore, it is important that the Chair of SACRE has a clear understanding of the nature of RE and collective worship and how that effects different schools in different ways, the role that RE and collective worship play in a broad and balanced education and their contribution to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Beyond understanding these, a good and effective SACRE Chair needs to believe in the positive contribution of these elements of education in the development of each pupil and of society. The Chair also needs to be committed to ensuring the inclusive involvement of all SACRE members and the constituencies that they represent.

Key tasks
Ensure that:

  • a clear timetable of meetings for the year is agreed and publicised
  • membership of the SACRE is efficiently maintained, i.e. that the four groups of SACRE have appropriate representation, with good attendance and participation
  • SACRE produces guidance to support the local authority and its schools with regard to religious education and collective worship
  • an annual report is produced each year and sent to the Secretary of State as required by statute
  • SACRE members have a programme of training and, when necessary, induction
  • there is a Vice or Deputy Chair if the Chair is unable to make a meeting
  • where there is an agreed a code of conduct, that it is adhered to by all SACRE members

Legislation relating to SACREs

SACRE officers

document which looks at the roles and responsibilities of SACRE officers.

Supporting the SACRE
The responsibilities of the Local Authority to its SACRE are:

  • ensure there is a SACRE
  • ensure all four groups are appropriately represented on the SACRE
  • establish an occasional body called an Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC) and appoint members
  • ensure there is an Agreed Syllabus, reviewed every five years
  • ensure funds and support are in place to enable SACRE and the ASC to fulfil their duties
  • take note of and respond to advice from the SACRE.

‘Sufficient funding’ for the SACRE may vary, but should not be less than:

  • Clerking support for 3-6 SACRE meetings per year.
  • Specialist RE advice and back-up support for 3-6 SACRE meetings per year
  • Specialist RE advice and back-up support from the Clerk and LA Officer
  • Support for any recommendations that may arise from these meetings
  • Preparation, publication and distribution of minutes
  • Ensuring an annual report is received by the DfE and key partners in the work of SACRE.

Most SACREs meet termly, although there are sometimes additional meetings when required.

Each SACRE is required to publish an annual report which has to be submitted to the Secretary of State and which should be widely circulated locally.

Supporting the ASC
Local Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that the agreed syllabus is reviewed every five years. SACREs should require the local authority (LA) to convene an Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC), a parallel but different body to the SACRE that requires the same level of ‘support’ from the LA to perform its function. During the review period, the ASC needs to meet regularly to consider draft syllabus materials and make recommendations. The ASC should also be clerked by a dedicated and professional clerk. Its minutes are a legal document, available for scrutiny should the syllabus process subsequently be challenged, possibly in a court of law. The LA is responsible for providing satisfactory funding for this task, including writing, consulting, publishing and providing necessary training. The LA must provide a sufficient budget, so a close partnership between the LA Officer and the SACRE is necessary to enable the work to proceed effectively.

In addition, the SACRE has the power, rarely used, to require the LA to review its agreed syllabus earlier than within the five-year period as stated in the Education Act 1996 (legislation.gov.uk).

‘Sufficient funding’ for the ASC within a five-year cycle may vary for reasons similar to those leading to variation in funding of SACREs in different LAs, but should not be less than:

  • Clerking support for 3-6 ASC meetings in a year
  • Specialist RE advice and back-up support for the 3-6 ASC meetings
  • Specialist RE advice and back-up support for reviewing the agreed syllabus
  • Preparing and publishing the new syllabus, disseminating it to LA schools.

Clerk to the SACRE and the ASC

Legislation underpinning the statutory work of SACREs requires that they should have the support of a clerk or similar officer, that minutes are produced in an efficient and legal manner, thereby ensuring the smooth and effective running of the SACRE; the LA has a responsibility to ensure that the minutes of SACREs and ASCs are publicly available for six years after their adoption.
Follow-up from meetings and liaising with various organisations and communities is time-consuming, requiring a level of professional competency. Both the SACRE and the ASC need to have a wide membership, representing the many and varied faith communities in the LA. The Clerk is often the first point of contact with these communities and SACRE members.

Responsibilities:
The SACRE and/or ASC Clerk should:

  • Arrange, attend and clerk meetings of the SACRE / ASC
  • Produce and circulate minutes and agendas of the SACRE / ASC in a timely manner
  • Ensure that all papers are circulated to members in advance of meetings
  • Advise on dates of meetings, particularly in relation to religious holidays or other Council
  • meetings which may clash and affect quoracy
  • Arrange venues for meetings of the SACRE / ASC
  • Liaise with a venue for use of any necessary equipment (e.g. IT, projector) required
  • Remind members / other attendees about reports for meetings / circulation deadlines
  • Circulate additional papers from e.g. NASACRE, RE Council and Ofsted, as appropriate
  • Work as a team closely with the Chair, RE Professional and other SACRE officers to produce reports, e.g. when changes to the SACRE constitution or membership are required
  • Be the first point of contact for SACRE members, faith community members, members of the public and other bodies concerned with the work of SACREs
  • Respond to queries, alerting the Chair and Adviser when necessary
  • Maintain the SACRE membership list, keeping it up to date, chasing members whose attendance is poor and identifying any membership issues for the attention of the Chair, RE Professional and LA officers
  • Contact nominating bodies represented on the SACRE when membership lapses to arrange for replacements and / or liaise with these bodies over other issues
  • Contribute information, e.g. membership and attendance details for the Annual Report
  • Assist in the production and circulation of the Annual Report; issue Welcome / Induction Packs for new members and ensure that they have sufficient information
  • Where possible liaise with the LA Officer, other Council departments, keeping the Chair, the RE Professional and other officers informed of any relevant Council initiatives
  • Ensure that all SACRE publications / advice are circulated to the relevant bodies
  • Liaise with the Council’s committee / legal section re. governance issues
  • Be responsible for the passing on invoices for payment, relating to SACRE work, e.g. attendance at national conferences, catering for meetings.

RE Professional Adviser to the SACRE

In some LAs, this role is taken over by a consultant employed for this purpose.
It is important therefore that the RE Professional Adviser is able to work with the support of the Clerk and the LA Officer, at least one of whom should be able to make necessary links with council processes and departments to ensure effective communications with schools and cross-Council working.

Responsibilities:
The SACRE (SACRE* indicates ASC when appropriate) RE Adviser should:

  • Attend all SACRE* meetings, helping to prepare agendas and key papers
  • Advise SACRE* on issues relating to its work
  • Ensure SACRE* is up to date with local, regional and national initiatives and issues related to RE, collective worship and syllabus developments, e.g. the work of the RE Council, the All Party Parliamentary Group for RE, DfE or charitable funded initiatives
  • Relate SACRE’s work to wider community issues, including partnerships with faith and belief communities
  • Lead on areas related to the Agreed Syllabus, RE and collective worship
  • Produce reports to meet the deadlines agreed for distribution of papers for meetings
  • Support SACRE members’ development, including their ability to provide a bridge between their nominating body and SACRE
  • Manage and deliver the training of SACRE members and, where appropriate, teachers and other groups interested in RE
  • With relevant administrative support / SACRE Clerk, manage and advise meetings of sub groups e.g. working parties for particular initiatives
  • With the SACRE Clerk ensure that SACRE publications are circulated to relevant bodies
  • Working with the Chair, the Clerk and other SACRE officers, produce reports to the Council e.g. when changes to the SACRE constitution or membership are required
  • Draft and edit the SACRE Annual Report and all SACRE materials and publications
  • With administrative support, update any relevant RE / ASC / SACRE website and SACRE’s presence on the LA website
  • Take the lead on the monitoring aspects of SACRE, especially agreed school visits and analysis of examination results in Religious Studies.

The Local Authority Officer to the SACRE

It is customary for SACREs to be attended by a senior Local Authority Officer who represents the Director of Children’s Services, supports SACRE’s effective communications with the LA and the smooth running of the work of the Clerk and RE Professional. Where either or both of these other functions are provided by an external consultant, this role is vital and pivotal as the LA Officer will need to establish the necessary links for SACRE with Council processes and departments to ensure effective communications with schools and cross-Council working.

The LA Officer will be able to provide SACRE with information regarding the local schools and the successes and difficulties they are experiencing, will understand and link SACRE to budge processes and Council initiatives which may influence or impact on their work, e.g. the Prevent Board or Community Safety Partnership.

Where the RE Professional is not a LA employee, the LA Officer will need to facilitate their link to other information about schools, examination data and other LA employees who can support links with schools, training processes and office backup.

When the LA is sending its budget for the coming year, the LA Officer should ensure that the needs of SACRE are recognised and that a sufficient budget is available so that SACRE can perform its statutory duties. When there is an Agreed Syllabus Conference, those additional needs will also have to be budgeted for.

Dealing with SACRE management issues

Code of conduct:

A generic code of conduct for SACREs to use or adapt.

Advice if a SACRE member becomes a problem:

This paper provides a companion piece to the code of conduct and SACRE constitution documents.

SACRE Membership attendance:

Do you have representatives on your SACRE who are not attending? NASACRE has drawn together some sample letters from SACREs to create an exemplar letter that you can tailor to your own context, to deal with non-attendance appropriately.

Constitution

document providing advice as to what a SACRE constitution should contain.

Annual Reports

A template document put together with the DfE’s support to explain what an LA/SACRE should include in its Annual Report.

SACRE self evaluation tool

self evaluation tool to enable SACREs to measure their effectiveness. (Word document)