Reason for the decision:
The Decision is necessary to clarify that KCC, as the responsible Local Authority for the Kent SACRE, maintains the membership arrangements in full compliance with the relevant national legislation.
Crucial to this particular consideration is that the legislation as it stands prohibits the inclusion of Humanist representatives as appointed voting members within Group A. Updated guidance on the matter has been issued by Government in Wales but this does not apply in England so until legislative change updates the position, KCC is seeking to make the eligibility situation clear via this decision.
The decision will not prevent the inclusion of Humanists or other relevant groups within SACRE as observers or non-voting co-optees (such arrangements for the welcoming of observers or co-optees are matters for determination by SACRE, subject to advice from the Local Authority).
SACRE sits as an outside body, with responsibilities relating to advising the local authority and education providers regarding the teaching of religious education. It draws membership from a range of people, with the membership separated into specific sections (with each section having one vote at full meetings of the SACRE).
(a) Christian denominations (other than the Church of England) and other denominations and religions as in the opinion of the Authority reflect the principal religious traditions in Kent. The number of representatives approved under the category shall, so far as is consistent with the efficient discharge of this group’s functions, reflect broadly the proportionate strength of that denomination or religion in the area.
(b) The Church of England
(c) Teacher Associations having regard to local circumstances.
(d) The Local Authority
KCC is responsible for considering the appropriate representation for Group (a) – Christian denominations and other denominations and religions. Such consideration may be given from time to time as the Local Authority deems necessary and in response to specific requests for updates to representation.
Options (other options considered but discarded):
KCC could have sought to include Humanism with Group A but doing so would have been contrary to law.
KCC could have continued applying standing membership arrangements, based on the legislation, without specific decision-making but this was discarded as it is helpful to update compliance with long standing legislation to confirm ongoing arrangements and provide more recent authority for local decision-making.
Note - Co-optee arrangements for management via SACRE have already been explored for relevant groups and will continue to be considered at the local level.
How the proposed decision supports the Interim Strategic Plan:
Appropriate management and delivery of SACRE business is a statutory requirement that contributes towards effective education in Kent. This overarching education element contributes to economic development and longer-term service demand management through improving outcomes for young people at an early stage.
The decision is necessary to ensure continued compliant organisation of SACRE.
Decision type: Non-key
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 04/05/2022
Anticipated restriction: Part exempt - View reasons
Decision due: 4 Jun 2022 by Leader of the Council
Lead director: Benjamin Watts
Department: Strategic & Corporate Services
Contact: Joel Cook, Democratic Services Manager Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 03000 416892.
The proposed decision was considered by the Children, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee on 10 May 2022.
Financial implications: None.
Legal implications: KCC is required under the Education Act 1996 to establish a SACRE. Membership arrangements and requirements continue to be subject to this legislation and this decision confirms compliance with the current legal position. Membership and other SACRE arrangements will be reviewed in the event of new legislation or new guidance issued by the Department for Education.
Equalities implications: The relevant protected characteristic group is Religion and Belief. While this decision limits the role of those seeking to represent Humanist views in terms of voting roles within SACRE, this arrangement is in line with the legislative requirements and does not prohibit involvement via co-optee and observer status. Any wider concerns relating to the Equality impact of the relevant legislation are matters for Government to consider. No data protection implications of the decision.