Every local authority must establish a permanent body, called a Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE). Its role is to advise the local authority on matters concerned with the provision of religious education (RE) and collective worship. It also stands as an occasional body called the Agreed Syllabus Conference. This conference comes together to produce an agreed syllabus for RE.
What is the function of a SACRE?
A SACRE's main function is to advise the authority on matters connected with religious worship and education in county schools. Its role is to ensure the education is given in accordance with an agreed syllabus.
- it can require the local authority to review its current agreed syllabus; and
- If a headteacher considers that it is inappropriate for the school to provide collective worship "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character", they can apply to SACRE for a determination. Before doing so, the headteacher must consult the school's governing body who in turn may wish to seek the view of the parents.
SACRE then "determines" whether the application is appropriate. In considering whether to grant a headteacher's request, the SACRE must ensure that the proposed determination is justified. Determinations must be reviewed after five years.
The broad role of a SACRE is to support the effective provision of RE and collective worship in schools. The local authority works with SACRE to review the existing provision for RE and consider with the SACRE whether any changes need to be made in the agreed syllabus or in the support offered to schools. Similarly, it works with SACRE to monitor the provision of daily collective worship and to consider with it any action which might be taken to improve such provision.
The advice offered by a SACRE carries no statutory force. However the local authority or school should always give careful consideration to advice offered.
SACRE has produced the following guidance documents for schools:
- Religious Observance Absence Guidance 2023-24
- Faith matters in physical education
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan - guidance for school leaders
- The A to Z of School Collective Worship Revised 2021
SACRE reports and minutes
SACRE must publish an annual report on its work. You can view the most recent reports here:
Preparing an agreed syllabus for religious education
For the purpose of preparing an agreed syllabus for religious education, a local authority must convene an agreed syllabus conference. A conference is a separate legal entity from a SACRE and, although common membership is permissible, it must be separately convened.
The role of a conference is to produce and recommend an agreed syllabus for RE which fully meets the requirements of the 1988 Act and is educationally sound. Only an agreed syllabus conference may recommend an agreed syllabus and its recommendation must be unanimously agreed by the committees constituting the conference.