Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE)

Following the 1988 Education Act, when Religious Education (RE) was confirmed as a compulsory part of the curriculum, it became a statutory requirement for every Local Authority (LA) to appoint a SACRE.

Surrey SACRE is made up of four groups which meet at least three times a year. The groups represent:

  • Group A: Christian denominations other than the Church of England and other faith or belief groups that represent the main traditions of the area;
  • Group B: The Church of England;
  • Group C: Teachers' associations and representatives from Surrey RE networks;
  • Group D: The Local Authority (Surrey County Council).

In addition, the SACRE can co-opt members who may have expertise in the area of religious education or who may represent other interested groups, such as academy groups, if all parties are in agreement.

The Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) exists to:

  • determine religious education content in Surrey maintained schools by producing a locally agreed syllabus and reviewing it every five years;
  • advise on matters of collective worship in county schools and religious education (RE) in line with the agreed syllabus. This includes methods of teaching, choice of materials and training for teachers;
  • assist with any complaint about religious education or collective worship in schools;
  • publish an annual report detailing any action that SACRE has taken and any advice it has given, as well as any monitoring of RE provision that has taken place in the County's schools or in relation to standards in RE.
  • In addition, SACRE can consider applications made by a headteacher, after consultation with the governing body and parents, to release some or all of the pupils in a particular school from the requirement that collective worship should be of a wholly or broadly Christian nature. This is known as a determination. For academies wishing to apply for a determination, the Academy Trust would apply, through the EFA, to the Secretary of State.
  • Further information regarding SACRE advice, guidance, resources and documentation, including Annual Reports and minutes of SACRE meetings.
  • Queries or further information about SACRE should be addressed to Kate Woodhouse, CLERK to SACRE, via email:

The Surrey Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education was developed between October 2016 and May 2017 and became the statutory syllabus for RE in all Surrey schools (maintained and voluntary controlled) from 1 September 2017. The syllabus has to be revised every five years by statute and will therefore be revised again in 2022. Please click on the Agreed Syllabus to access the main syllabus and resources website.

All schools are now required by Ofsted to publish their school's curriculum, which includes RE, on their school website. SACRE's good practice guide for RE on websites, and other guidance, can be found on the Surrey SACRE support page. Please note that RE is statutory for all pupils in all schools (subject to parental withdrawal) and that secondary schools, including Academies and Free Schools, should publish how they are meeting the requirement for statutory RE at KS4 if it is not delivered through the GCSE curriculum.

RE in Academies and Free Schools

The Funding Agreement for an Academy without a religious designation states that it must arrange for RE to be given to all pupils in accordance with the requirements for agreed syllabuses (as set out in section 375(3) of the Education Act 1996 and paragraph (5) of Schedule 19 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.) This means a syllabus that reflects that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain. It also means that an Academy without a religious designation must not provide an RE syllabus to pupils by means of any catechism or formulary which is distinctive of any particular religious denomination. Academies are free to follow the locally agreed syllabus if they choose or they can choose another from a different Local Authority area.