A Welsh council has ruled that humanists will now be allowed to sit alongside religious representatives on their advisory body for Religious Education (RE).
Last night the Vale of Glamorgan Council announced that it would change its constitution to allow people with humanist beliefs to be represented on its standing advisory council on RE (SACRE).
SACREs are the local authority bodies in England and Wales which are responsible for overseeing the RE syllabus and ‘collective worship’ in local authority controlled schools.
The decision follows a legal challenge taken by Humanists UK after the council refused to admit Kathy Riddick, who is also the Coordinator of Wales Humanists, to its SACRE in 2016 on the grounds that only religious representatives – and not non-religious representatives – were entitled to full membership.
Humanists UK argued it was a breach of human rights to exclude membership to non-religious and humanist representatives.
Then last year the Vale of Glamorgan chose to withdraw its decision rather than defend it at the High Court after Humanists UK was granted permission for judicial review. The council opted to review its policy on humanist membership of the SACRE and take a fresh decision on the application of Kathy Riddick. In May 2018, Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education in the Welsh Assembly issued guidance to all local authorities in Wales saying humanists should be members of SACRE.
Commenting on the decision, Kathy Riddick, said: ‘When I first applied to the local SACRE all I wanted was to work alongside religious representatives in contributing to the improvement of RE in my local area. I am delighted that the Council has reviewed its policy to include humanists like myself as I believe it is vitally important that we get a say in shaping these important decisions that affect the education of many children.
Welcoming the decision, Chief Executive of Humanists UK Andrew Copson said: ‘This decision is not only a win for the rights of non-religious people to be equally represented on SACREs, but it is also a win for schoolchildren who deserve a fairer, more inclusive education system. We hope this ruling sets a wider precedent that all SACREs across England and Wales should include humanists on their local RE bodies to ensure non-religious worldviews are given equal prominence as religious beliefs in every school curriculum.’
For more information, contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3078.
Read further background on this case visit: https://humanists.uk/2018/05/08/welsh-government-humanists-must-be-given-right-to-sit-on-local-re-bodies/
Read more about Humanists UK’s work on Religious Education: https://humanists.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/religious-education/
At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.