One of the little pleasures about being on the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education is their choice of venue for their meetings. It is a moving feast, a veritable cornucopia of delights.
Yesterday it was the Unitarian Meeting House in Grange Gardens. I have oft seen this little treasure from outside, but never have I been within. Now I can claim to have seen inside.
OK, it is a little less exciting inside, a rather bland building to be honest, functional doubtless. Nonetheless, I am pleased to have seen it. The building lies in Kursaal ward, but it is within a stone's throw of the ward I represent - quite literally. (Do not ask that I test that particular theory out).
I confess to quite enjoying SACRE meetings, notwithstanding my secular leanings. I have to say, though, that the large rooms with poor heating are not a good fit with winter weather - I did get a little cold from my ninety minutes there.
The annual report was interesting, not least because Southend-on-Sea's schools are outperforming national averages in GCSE attainment in religious education. This was put down, in part, to the work of the committee. I pat myself on the back.
Challenging budgets came up, and religious education does suffer from the ongoing squeeze.
Women Count: It is unusual, in my experience, to see gender parity in many Council committee meetings. However, yesterday's gender count amongst those in attendance was: male 7, female 6. Yes, I did just assume your gender.