The SACRE can also require the local authority to review its current agreed syllabus. It must consider applications made by a headteacher that the requirement for collective worship in county maintained or community schools be wholly of a broadly Christian character should not apply to the collective worship provided for some or all of the pupils at that particular school.
The broad role of SACRE is to support the effective provision of RE and collective worship in schools. It is for the local authority to decide what matters it wishes to refer to its SACRE but the 1988 Education Reform Act says these should include, in particular:
- methods of teaching
- the choice of teaching material
- the provision of training for teachers
For the purpose of preparing an agreed syllabus for RE, the local authority must convene an agreed syllabus conference (ASC). This is a separate legal entity from a SACRE and, although common membership is permissible, it must be separately convened.
The role of the conference is to produce and recommend an agreed syllabus for RE which meets fully the requirements of the 1988 Education Reform Act and is educationally sound (meaning it meets the legislative requirements outlined above).
Only an ASC may recommend an agreed syllabus and its recommendations must be unanimously agreed by the committees constituting the ASC.
A SACRE and an ASC are each to comprise four groups or committees representing the Church of England and the learning authority.
Christian denominations and other religions and religious denominations, the number of whose representatives should, so far as is consistent with the efficient discharge of the committee’s functions, reflect broadly the proportionate strengths of that denomination or religion in the area.
Such associations representing teachers (teachers’ trade unions or professional associations, in other words), as in the opinion of the local authority, ought to be represented, having regard to the circumstances of the area.
A SACRE may also include co-opted members but they do not have voting rights. On any question to be decided by a SACRE, the groups each have a single vote. Decisions within a group about how that vote is to be cast do not require unanimity.
This applies to the ASC or to any sub-committee, although all committees of an ASC must unanimously agree to recommend an agreed syllabus to the local authority.
In producing the agreed syllabus, the ASC took note of:
- the QCA non-statutory national framework for RE, 2004
- the QCDA RE non-statutory programme of study for key stages three and four, 2007
- the QCDA RE non-statutory programme of learning for a statutory subject in primary schools, 2010
- the DCSF RE in English schools: non-statutory guidance, 2010
- The Religious Education Council 2013 “RE Review"