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Tackle religious discrimination in our schools, humanists tell Welsh Government

Children in a religious program

Wales Humanists has told the Welsh Government to prioritise tackling religious discrimination in the education system in a response to a consultation on its four-year strategic equality plan.

Although Wales Humanists has welcomed proposals by the Welsh Government to make the subject of Religious Education (RE) more inclusive, by including content on non-religious worldviews and renaming it to ‘Religions and Worldviews’, progress towards equality is still lacking in other key areas of the education system.

Wales Humanists has called for the abolition of the legal requirement for schools to hold a daily act of Christian worship, replacing it with inclusive assemblies which are educational, enjoyable, and appropriate for all young people regardless of their religious background. Concerns were also raised about the continuance of religious selection in admissions to state-funded schools, which not only segregates children along religious lines but have also been shown to exacerbate ethnic and social divisions.

It also expressed grave concerns about plans to remove the right to withdraw from RE, particularly in faith schools. Under the new curriculum arrangements, denominational syllabuses will still be set solely by religious bodies and, as is currently the case, the subject will still be permitted to be taught ‘according to the tenets’ of a particular faith. This risks allowing the state-sanctioned indoctrination of children who attend faith schools, but whose families do not share the religious perspectives of those schools.

Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick commented, ‘The Welsh Government has supported progressive changes to the teaching of Religious Education in order to achieve greater equality in Wales. However religious discrimination in our education system is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed. Most notably the continuance of practices such as religious selection in state school admissions, the requirement for daily acts of collective worship, and the risk that in state-funded schools with a religious character, parents who do not share the faith of the schools will not be able to withdraw children from doctrinal or confessional RE lessons. We call upon the Welsh Government to enact our recommendations and eliminate religious discrimination as a priority.’

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For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Read more about the collective worship court case being supported by Humanists UK.

Wales Humanists is part of Humanists UK. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 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.

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