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Goodbye RE, hello RVE! Welsh Bill making curriculum fully inclusive of humanism will become law

A landmark education Bill that will make the curriculum in Wales fully inclusive of humanism has passed the final stage in the Senedd and will become law. Wales Humanists, which has long campaigned for humanism to be taught on an equal footing with religions in the school curriculum, welcomed the news, calling it a huge success for inclusive education. Humanists UK has called for the rest of the UK to follow Wales’s lead.

In addition to explicitly broadening the scope of the subject, the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill will change the name ‘religious education’ (RE) to ‘religion, values, and ethics’ (RVE). It will also clarify that humanists may sit on the bodies that oversee and develop the syllabus (known as SACs – renamed from SACREs – and ASCs).

The Bill will also introduce an array of other reforms. These include the introduction of objective, age and developmentally appropriate relationships and sexuality education (RSE) for all pupils aged 3-16 with no parental right to withdraw, and placing a duty on schools 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: 

‘We are absolutely delighted that the Senedd has passed this Bill and that, after many years of campaigning by Wales Humanists, humanism will be put on an equal footing with religions throughout the curriculum. This is a huge success for inclusive education and Wales is very much leading the way. We congratulate the Government for its achievement.’

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

‘The same legal reasons why Wales has reformed the archaic law on RE in accordance with the Human Rights Act apply across the rest of the UK too, and so do all the educational arguments. Every contemporary justification for teaching about religions – its contribution to social cohesion and mutual understanding, its presentation of a range of answers to questions of meaning and purpose, its role in educating about the history and present culture of humanity, and its role in the search for personal identity and values – applies equally to teaching about the humanist approach to life. This only becomes more true as the share of the population taking a humanist approach continues to balloon.

‘Wales is now a shining example of an inclusive curriculum in religious and non-religious worldviews, but the same archaic law that is being swept away in Wales still applies in England, and the law in Northern Ireland is even more exclusive. We urge the governments of the other nations of the UK to follow Wales’ lead and make their curriculums broad, inclusive, and relevant to all.’

Notes:

For further comment or information in Wales, please contact Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick via kathy@humanists.uk or phone 07881 625 378. In England, please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham via ruth@humanists.uk or phone 07725110860.

Read our most recent article on Senedd voting to require schools to promote children’s rights.

Read our article on the Senedd Children, Young People, and Education Committee backing the Bill that will make RE fully inclusive of humanism.

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 our article on the Welsh Government introducing the Bill requiring Religion, Values, and Ethics lessons to be fully inclusive of humanism.

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.

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