A Bill that will make religious education in Wales fully inclusive of humanism has passed the first stage before becoming law. Wales Humanists – which has long campaigned for this change – has strongly welcomed the news, saying the Bill will make Wales ‘a world-leader in inclusive education’.
Following a debate, Senedd members today voted in favour of the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill. The Bill will make explicit that schools cover humanism equally to religions in the curriculum, that humanists can sit on the bodies that develop and oversee the syllabus at local authority level, and will rename ‘Religious Education’ to ‘Religion, Values, and Ethics’ (RVE) to reflect this broader scope.
If it becomes law, the Bill will also give parents whose children attend voluntary aided faith schools the right to demand objective RVE lessons in line with the syllabus taught in other schools, instead of faith-based lessons.
During the debate, Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams expressed her ‘appreciation to Wales Humanists for their contribution’ to the Government’s work on RVE and said the Bill would ‘ensure pluralistic RVE is available to all learners’. Chair of the Senedd’s Children, Education, and Young People Committee, Lynne Neagle, emphasised the Committee’s ‘unanimous’ support for mandatory lessons in RVE and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) that is ‘objective, critical, and pluralistic’, in line with Wales Humanists’ calls. And Labour MS Joyce Watson highlighted the fact that the curriculum was about ‘teaching wider perspectives’ as well as ‘respect’ and ‘understanding that people are different’.
Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick commented:
‘We are delighted that the Senedd has given its support to this landmark Bill. By broadening the scope of RE so it explicitly requires teaching about humanism, as well as giving parents the right to demand objective lessons about a range of religious and non-religious beliefs in faith schools, these changes will revitalise this important subject and make it relevant to all pupils regardless of background.
‘We are nevertheless concerned that the Bill has done nothing to remove the archaic requirement for schools to carry out a daily act of Christian worship. This not only contradicts much of the rationale for the new curriculum, but it also undermines the freedom of religion or belief of children and their families. We therefore urge the Senedd to amend the Bill to remove this law.’
For further comment or information, please contact Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick via firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07881 625 378.
Read our most recent article on the Senedd committee backing Bill that will make RE fully inclusive of humanism.
Read Wales Humanists’ written response to the call for evidence.
Read more about Wales Humanists’ work on RE.
Wales Humanists is part of Humanists UK. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.