To present a report by the RE Advisor to the SACRE on the following:-
• The current position of schools in relation to Covid-19;
• Summary of Collective Worship arrangements in Secondary Schools;
• Results of external assessments and pupil numbers 2020-21;
• The SACRE’s Operational Panel: Confirmation of support funding;
• Update on the Curriculum for Wales;
• Peace Schools Conference;
• Update on the Annual Report.
The RE Advisor gave a summary of her report, and the following points were noted:-
• Schools continue to face challenging times due to the pandemic. Head teachers are under considerable pressure to secure arrangements to prevent the spread of Covid-19, in line with Welsh Government guidelines.
• There has recently been an increase in the number of children and young people who have caught Covid-19, and more teachers have caught the infection.
• There is growing concern that more parents are removing their children from school and providing home schooling. It was noted that the instability and lower attendances has had a negative impact on schools, and is currently being monitored by the Education Department and Children’s Services. The Council’s welfare team work closely with parents to offer support and address the individual needs of children. Extra support is also offered to pupils who have additional learning and/or disability needs.
The SACRE expressed concern that the impact of home education has not been given due attention in Council meetings. As RE is a specialist subject, the SACRE felt that parents do not have the necessary level of expertise in the subject to educate their children at home to the required standard. Following discussion, it was agreed that the SACRE’s concerns be raised in the next meeting of the Schools Progress Review Panel.
• Three secondary schools and two primary schools in Ynys Môn have participated in the Welsh Government’s Philosophy for Children training. Positive feedback has been received from the SACRE’s teachers, who believe the training will complement Religion Values and Ethics (RVE).
• Collective Worship arrangement have continued in secondary schools throughout the pandemic, despite the challenges schools face.
• 103 pupils took RE as a subject in GCSEs in 2020/21 - 46.7% achieved A*- A; 83.5% achieved A*- C. 23 pupils studied RE A Level for the same period - 95.7% achieved A*- C, and all pupils achieved a pass.
• GCSE and A Level external assessments results are yet to be confirmed. Statistical data will from last year’s assessments and previous years’ examination results will be included in the SACRE’s Annual Report, which will be presented to the SACRE’s next meeting for adoption.
Concerns were raised regarding Welsh Government’s lack of clarity as to whether examinations or assessments will be in place next year. It was noted that the lack of information is putting a strain on teachers and pupils in Years 11 and 13. It was further noted that WJEC reported in a recent NAPfRE meeting that examinations would be constantly reviewed for next year.
A question was raised as to whether RE A Level is delivered in each school? The RE Advisor responded that when only a small number of pupils want to study a particular subject at A Level, arrangements are in place for appointed schools to lead and teach those subjects. The flexibility offered by secondary schools enables pupils to study their chosen subjects, with no additional transport costs.
The SACRE praised the excellent collaboration in Anglesey schools. It was noted that teachers share their expertise and resources, and build upon existing partnerships, and encourage new partnerships to grow.
• The RE Advisor reported that due to the pandemic, the Operational Panel for Schools’ SACRE has not had the opportunity to monitor and embed good practice in schools.
• The Operational Panel has received grant funding of £4,000 to assist schools in Ynys Môn to formulate the new curriculum and deliver the elements of Religion, Values and Ethics in schools in the Humanities AoLE.
The RE Advisor suggested, and it was agreed, that the grant funding be split into 5 catchment areas by one lead school, rather than shared between specific schools to plan the curriculum. It was noted that leaders in secondary schools could then share their expertise in planning the curriculum with the primary sector. Mrs Manon Williams reported that engagement in the Humanities AoLE is already taking place in some schools the south of the Island.
• To date, no further correspondence has been published on the Curriculum for Wales following the RVE consultation.
The Chair reported that in today’s WASACRE meeting, it was confirmed that the draft guidelines for the Curriculum for Wales will be shared with SACREs and Directors of Education before Christmas, and published in January 2022.
Mr Rheinallt Thomas, who was also present in the WASACRE meeting reported that it will be necessary to agree on the new curriculum by the end of February 2022, due to the Purdah period prior to elections.
Mr Thomas stated that to meet the requirement of the RE Framework, it will be necessary for SACREs to accept non-religious representatives as members. It was noted that a copy of the draft Framework will be forwarded to the SACRE prior to publication in January 2022.
• A Peace Schools Conference was held virtually recently, which was attended by children and young people. The main topic discussed was climate change and its effect on world populations. Anglesey’s contribution included developing the themes on ethnic minorities within the RVE Curriculum.
• To note the information presented.
• That the SACRE members on the Schools Progress Review Panel raise the SACRE’s concerns regarding home education in the Panel’s next meeting.
• That the RE Advisor shares the £4,000 grant funding centrally between the 5 schools within each catchment area.