The Development of Character

overarching aim of formal education is to develop the character of young people and our society. Education looks to the future and implicitly asks, ‘What kind of person and community should we become?’  With the task of shaping this future it is necessary to take into account the complexity of modern society and also what it means to be a person. To aid us in this task are the resources and experiences of the past.

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Supporting the provision of Religious Education in school is the underlying conviction that religious traditions constitute a rich treasury of vision, practice and experience to assist the educational task. Tradition is literally the ‘handing on’ of what matters most if others and young people are to meet the challenges ahead. It does so by maintaining a clear focus on what is truly valued in life. Religious Education offers the opportunity in which the deepest values of human life are identified, shared and discussed.

The multiplicity of religions found in a great and dynamic city, such as Birmingham, offers very specific challenges and opportunities.  How should we shape the curriculum in which all can participate with enthusiasm? The experience of delivering the religious education syllabus in schools with the intention of cultivating 24 spiritual and moral dispositions brought the religions together in a common purpose and in this purpose they found mutual support in each other. The knowledge of, and understanding about, Christianity and other Faiths within the shared framework of inspiring children and young people to live well has made religious education truly engaging.

In this syllabus children and young people are seen as persons, seeking understanding, with deep feelings and emotions. They are also seen as persons who are eager to act.  Recognising that pupils are also part of a community, the syllabus aims to encourage them to contribute to schools, our society and our world and thus also to help them acquire the requisite skills to do so.

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In England and Wales religious education is a legal entitlement for all pupils in schools maintained from public funds. All Local Authorities (LA) which have the responsibility of overseeing maintained schools are also required by law to have a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, i.e. a SACRE. The origin of SACREs goes back to the Education Act of 1944, strengthened by the Education Reform Act 1988 and the Education Act 1996 found here.

 

 

The legally prescribed functions of SACREs are

  • To advise the Local Authority on matters connected with religious worship in all schools without a religious foundation;
  • To advise the Local Authority on matters relating to Religious Education which is to be taught in accordance with an Agreed Syllabus;
  • To consider, and decide upon, applications made by Headteachers for a ‘determination’. (A determination lifts the requirement for acts of school worship to be wholly or mainly of a Christian character);
  • To publish an annual report;
  • To require the LA to review its Agreed Syllabus; and
  • To advise the Local Authority on matters it sees fit.

 

 

As a generously-funded SACRE, Birmingham would like to share its teaching resources with other Local Authorities, their schools and teachers, as well as to make them available to the educational endeavours of Faith communities. Accordingly this website contains many useful resources some of which (e.g. schemes of work and lesson plans with their supporting material) are for purchase at a modest cost after you log in. You can also contact us to arrange to speak to, or meet with, our specialist RE adviser and to other people with relevant expertise.

If you wish to know more about the work of Birmingham SACRE you can access Birmingham SACRE's development plan, the current and past reports, meetings of minutes and a full list of SACRE members without charge. Simply Log in, select the Teaching resources section and select 'About the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE)'

Birmingham SACRE is strongly supported by the Faith Leaders Group of Birmingham. They were formed in 2001 after 9/11 to promote good interfaith relations. There is a short film of their 10th anniversary pilgrimage in which they manifest the cohesion of faith communities in the City and a deep religious solidarity. In the film, ‘RE in Birmingham’, the City’s faith leaders speak forthrightly about the value of the 2007 Birmingham Agreed Syllabus with its focus on nurturing spiritual and moral dispositions.