The Welsh Government has published its proposed new curriculum for Wales, and its new Humanities area of learning is just as inclusive of humanism as it is of the major world religions. The change, which Wales Humanists has long campaigned for, is part of sweeping reforms to the Welsh curriculum that have been officially unveiled.
According to the draft curriculum guidance, RE syllabuses in Wales will be required to ‘ take account of non-religious world views which are analogous to religions (e.g. humanism).’ RE will continue to be compulsory and there will be no change to the requirement for schools to deliver an ‘agreed syllabus’ which is determined at a local level by bodies called Agreed Syllabus Conferences (ASCs) and then overseen by Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (or SACREs). Faith schools will also still be permitted to deliver their own syllabus. However, humanists will be granted the explicit right to become full members of SACREs and ASCs.
The Welsh Government also says it is in the process of developing a ‘supporting framework’ – informed by the work of ‘a group of religious education practitioners, curriculum pioneers, academics, and representatives from Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs) and the National Advisory Panel for Religious Education (NAPFRE) – which will clarify ‘the relationship between religious education, the agreed syllabus, and the areas of learning and experience’. Wales Humanists is taking part in this process.
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:
‘We are delighted to learn that the Welsh Government has put humanism on an equal footing with religion throughout the curriculum. Wales is leading the way on ensuring RE is fully inclusive in its curriculum, recognising the fact that teaching young people about non-religious beliefs is good for building mutual understanding between those of different beliefs, for understanding British history and culture today, and helps non-religious pupils to reflect on their own beliefs and values.
‘Unfortunately, in England the UK Government has taken the decision to leave the question of whether or not to include humanism on RE syllabuses, or allow humanists to sit on SACREs or ASCs, to individual local authorities, some of whom have chosen to exclude non-religious perspectives and the people who hold them altogether. This is in spite of the fact that human rights case law is clear that every local authority must take an inclusive approach. We are pushing for this to change.’
For more information, contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3000 or 07725110860.
To read our response to the Welsh Government’s white paper consultation on the new curriculum, visit: https://humanism.org.uk/2019/04/16/wales-humanists-pushes-for-more-inclusive-re-and-rse/
For more information on our work on RE, visit: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/religious-education/
Wales Humanists is part of Humanists UK. 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.