Schools apply for a determination if they feel that, for religious reasons, collective worship which reflects the broad traditions of Christian belief is not appropriate for thier pupils. That does not mean they do not have to offer collective worship at all.DfE's Circular 1/94, paragraphs 68-81, summarises the position on determinations. 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". (Circular 1/94).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" (Circular 1/94). Determinations must be reviewed after five years. Westminster schools seeking a determination for the first timeRequests for information about determinations should be made in the first place to Clerk to SACRE. The Clerk will respond with a letter informing the school of the procedure and asking that the school complete an application form (please find attached on the right).Schools seeking determination are required to submit applications at least 15 working days ahead of a SACRE meeting and the papers are then circulated by the Clerk to SACRE members at least 10 working days ahead of the SACRE meeting at which the determination will be considered. Westminster schools that currently have a determinationThe Clerk to SACRE will keep an up-to-date list of schools that have been granted a determination specifying the date on which the determination was granted, the date on which it lapses, and as soon as known, the date of the SACRE meeting immediately prior to the determination lapsing.The Clerk to SACRE writes to the headteacher of schools whose determination is due to lapse, sending an application form for a renewal and specifying a date 15 working days ahead of the next SACRE meeting by which an application for renewal must be received. Consideration by SACRE of an application for a determinationIt will be the duty of the adviser to SACRE to scrutinise documentation for all determinations ahead of SACRE meetings and seek clarification from a school where any aspect of an application is unclear or incomplete. In addition, at least two members of SACRE would visit schools applying for determinations and report back to SACRE. If a visit is not possible, this would not delay the determination being considered.Westminster SACRE considers each application received against the criteria set out in the 1996 Education Act and Circular 1/94 (or any updates to this legislation and guidance should they become available). SACRE's decision regarding each determination request is notified to the headteacher in writing, by the Clerk to SACRE, within ten working days of the SACRE meeting at which the decision was taken.
All maintained schools must provide daily collective worship for all registered pupils (apart from those who have been withdrawn by their parents). This is usually provided within a daily assembly. Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (please see the link on the right), the headteacher is responsible for arranging the daily collective worship after consulting with the governing body. Daily collective worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. The precise nature will depend on the family background, ages and abilities of the pupils. Most schools should be able to include all pupils in their act of collective worship. There may be cases, however, where, in view of the family background of some or all pupils, the headteacher and governing body feel that a broadly Christian act of worship is not suitable. In these circumstances, the headteacher can apply to the local SACRE for a determination to have the Christian content requirement lifted. Collective worship can take place at any time in the school day and the whole school does not need to get together at the same time. Collective worship can be organised into form groups or year groups or whatever is appropriate for the school. It cannot be organised in faith groups unless a determination has been sought and granted by the local SACRE. Collective worship, whether in assembly or tutor time, will: - be acceptable to the whole community, staff and pupils - include a variety of elements at different times- involve the pupils. Collective worship in foundations schools with a religious character and voluntary schools will be in accordance with the school's trust deed or in accordance with the beliefs of the religion or denomination specified for the school. Westminster SACRE has produced guidelines for collective worship in its document "Things of the Spirit", a copy of which is available on the right. Guidance on collective worship can also be found in DfE's Circular 1/94 (please see the link on the right). Although this guidance has been replaced by guidance published on 29 January 2010 in so far as it relates to religious education, the guidance on collective worship contained within Circular 1/94 remains current. TeachersTeachers cannot be required to lead or attend collective worship except where the law provides otherwise. This would normally only happen in a maintained school with a religious designation.
Westminster Agreed Syllabus
In the first decades of the twentieth century there were disputes around the country about what could and should be taught about religion in publicly funded elementary schools. A number of local authorities sought to settle the matter by bringing together interested parties, typically Anglican clergy, free church people, teachers and councillors to sort out a voluntary agreement that could be commended to schools. The model was given statutory force by the 1944 Education Reform Act. Subsequent legislation has given some specification about the content of agreed syllabuses and requires each local authority to review its agreed syllabus at least once every five years. Currently all legislation relevant to agreed syllabuses is contained in the Education Act 1996. Guidance on interpreting legislation relating to RE is provided in the document "Religious Education in English Schools: non-statutory guidance 2010". This document also makes recommendations as to good practice.