A Welsh law that will make the curriculum fully inclusive of humanism has received royal assent – meaning it is now an Act. Wales Humanists has welcomed the historic Act, calling it an enormous success for inclusive education. Humanists UK has called for the rest of the UK to follow Wales’s lead.
The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act received royal assent yesterday, and will come into force from September 2022. It means that, in line with the Human Rights Act 1998, humanism will be taught on an equal footing with religions in the school curriculum. The name of the subject of ‘religious education’ (RE) will be changed to ‘religion, values, and ethics’ (RVE), to reflect this broader scope. The Act also clarifies that humanists may sit on the bodies that oversee and develop the syllabus.
In addition to the changes to RE, the Act will introduce an array of other sweeping reforms. These include objective age-appropriate relationships and sexuality education (RSE) for all pupils aged 3-16, with no parental right to withdraw. Schools will also have a legal duty to promote knowledge and understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Parents whose children attend voluntary aided faith schools will also be given the right to have them taught objective RVE lessons in line with the inclusive syllabus taught in other schools, rather than faith-based lessons.
Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick commented:
‘After many years of campaigning, we are delighted that humanism will finally be put on an equal footing with religions in the new curriculum. This is an enormous success for inclusive education and shows that Wales is very much leading the way in this area.’
Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham commented:
‘Quality teaching about different religions and beliefs enhances social cohesion and mutual understanding. It enables children to develop their own views, identities, and values by presenting them with a range of answers to questions of meaning and purpose. And it helps to educate them in the history and culture of humanity. This applies as much to teaching about humanism as it does to teaching about world religions. This is particularly true as the share of the population who are humanists continues to balloon.
‘The new law makes it clear that humanism should be taught and humanists should be members of local RE advisory bodies, alongside religious representatives. We urge the other governments of the UK to follow Wales’ lead and ensure humanists are properly included and that non-religious worldviews are taught about alongside religions.’
For further comment or information in Wales, please contact Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick via email@example.com or phone 07881 625 378. In England, please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham via firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07725 110860.
Read the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act.
Read our most recent article on the Welsh Curriculum Bill passing Stage Four in the Senedd.
Read our most recent article on Senedd voting to require schools to promote children’s rights.
Read our article on Wales Humanists giving oral evidence to the Committee.
Read Wales Humanists’ written response to the Committee’s 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.
In 2021, Humanists UK is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The new website Humanist Heritage is a rich new web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas.