Saturday, 27 February 2010

Report on East Sussex SACRE

On Thursday I went to the East Sussex SACRE meeting at the Civic Centre in Uckfield. I was there, self-invited, as a Humanist Observer. What I observed was complete apathy. There were only two actual members of the SACRE there! These were Councillor Matthew Lock representing the Local Authority, and Dr Brenda Vance of the United Reformed Church. These were outnumbered by the three administrators, Susan Thompson (Religious Education Consultant), Connie Hughes (Primary Team Leader, School Improvement Service) and Rebecca Haynes (Clerk to the SACRE).

The other person present was Bill Moore who is Chair of the Executive of the National Association of SACREs (which has the unfortunate acronym NASACRE). He gave a presentation on what SACREs are, what they do, amd the laws governing them. According to one of the quotes in his presentation: RE has to "reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in GB". I queried whether this should read "religions and beliefs", as the wording is in other documents from the Government, but was told those were only "guidance" and did not have legal force. I also asked if there was any chance of Religious Education being retitled to something like Philosophical and Ethical Education, but Mr Moore was clearly against any such change.

One reason for the lack of attendance could be the choice of Uckfield as a venue. The only way I could find of getting there by public transport was by train to Eastbourne and then a one-hour bumpy journey on the number 54 bus, which runs every 2 and a half hours. It seemed unclear whether the meeting would go on until the scheduled 5 pm finish, since the meeting was unquorate, so that no definite decisions could be taken. So I decided to miss the second half of the meeting and catch the early bus back to Eastbourne. It poured of rain all the way (as it did at the last SACRE meeting I attended).

Later I looked up the NASACRE website. Its URL is "" but in fact this redirects to "", and the first part of this URL takes one to the "Me, Myself and I" Independent Educational Consultancy run by Paul Hopkins, which also maintains websites for many other groups with weird acronyms: AREIAC, AULRE, COGREE, ECCE, EFTRE, ICCS, SRSP and others, all relating to Religious Education. I could find no reference to humanism on these sites.

1 comment:

  1. I just wondered if you would be able to let your members know about our event. We have AC Grayling speaking at our event on humanism on 14th July this year from 1700-1815. He is a really outstanding speaker and is going to talk about his humanist ‘bible’.

    We also have some philosophical and political debates that they might enjoy. I have attached a press release below.

    Many thanks

    Marc Rattray


    Lewes Speakers Festival

    tel 07939 350 263

    The Lewes Speakers Festival brings together on the 13th-15th July 2012, a host of exciting events. Amongst others: The Climate change Minister, Gregory Barker discusses the environment with Caroline Lucas of the Green Party; Theodore Dalrymple, the arch-conservative of the Spectator, locks horns with Polly Toynbee of the Guardian over liberal attitudes to morality and the Welfare State; and Peter Hitchens will debate with Dr Axel Klein the ‘legalisation of drugs’. Jonathan Fenby, former Editor of the Observer, discusses the future of China; Clive Aslet, Editor of Country Life at Large, discusses ‘The Arts and Crafts Country House’. In addition, BBC Presenter Jonathan Meades ponders, in debate, the future of French Politics and historian John Julius Norwich will discuss the history of the popes. For booking tickets and further information please go to .