The Welsh Government has today published a wide-ranging and independent review of the school curriculum in Wales, identifying the shortcomings of the existing curriculum arrangements and making a series of recommendations designed to improve outcomes in the classroom. The review, carried out by Scottish education expert Professor Graham Donaldson, was commissioned by the Welsh Government in March 2014. The British Humanist Association (BHA) responded to the review’s call for evidence in June last year following consultation with Wales Humanists, its Welsh section.
The report proposes four distinct purposes to the curriculum and also recommends that individual subjects be encompassed in new Areas of Learning and Experience, designed to link related subjects and provide context for achieving the four purposes. As part of this proposal, it is recommended that Religious Education (RE) sits within the ‘Humanities’ area. Encouragingly, the report calls for RE to remain a statutory curriculum requirement from reception and emphasises its importance in ‘developing respect and understanding of different forms of religion over time and in different societies’, rather than promoting ‘a particular faith or belief system’.
The BHA’s response to the call for evidence particularly emphasised the need for strengthened and updated guidance on personal and social education (PSE) and sex and relationships education (SRE), which should be a statutory entitlement; inclusion of RE on the national curriculum, and for RE to be inclusive of non-religious worldviews such as Humanism; and for evolution to be added to the primary national curriculum.
The Welsh Government is now launching a ‘Great Debate’ to discuss the various recommendations of the review before it decides how much of it they will choose to implement.
Reacting to the publication of the review, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said: ‘Whilst of course we welcome the recommendation that teaching about religions in schools remains a statutory requirement, we continue to support the addition of RE, the contemporary subject in which such teaching occurs, to the national curriculum, which would end the pattern of varying quality across schools that currently exists. Professor Donaldson rightly identifies education about religions as a crucial part of a child’s development, and we believe this would be best delivered through a nationally-set syllabus which is fully-inclusive of both religious and non-religious worldviews.
‘We look forward to contributing to the ”Great Debate” in the coming weeks and months, during which time we will continue to state our case for the recommendations we made last year.’
For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 07534 248596.
Read the BHA’s response to the call for evidence: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Curriculum-for-Wales-call-for-evidence-response-from-the-British-Humanist-Association.pdf
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The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.