UK/September 08, 2022/Source: https://humanists.uk/
Wales Humanists today heralded a ‘new era of inclusivity’ as state-funded schools officially roll out a changed curriculum replacing Religious Education (RE) with Religion, Values, and Ethics (RVE), fully incorporating the teaching of non-religious worldviews such as humanism alongside those religions historically provided for.
The move – under the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act – means humanism will now be taught on an equal footing with religions. It follows a long campaign by Wales Humanists to make sure that children receive a broad and balanced education in this area.
Wales Humanists Coordinator Kathy Riddick said:
‘Today is undoubtedly a landmark in the campaign to reform RE into a wider, more engaging subject that enables young people to contemplate fundamental philosophical questions, including those related to both religions and humanism.
‘By changing its law in this way, Wales has signalled a new era of inclusivity in its approach to the school curriculum.
‘While we naturally welcome and applaud this move, Humanists UK continues to campaign for the other governments of the UK to make a similar move. All pupils should have the right to an impartial, objective, fair, balanced school curriculum – and this means exploring an assortment of religions and humanism.’
The change to the law in Wales followed a 2017 court challenge against a local authority by Kathy, who had been denied membership to her local standing advisory council on RE (SACRE) – the bodies that set and oversee the RE syllabus in most schools.
She won the right to take a judicial review under the Human Rights Act. However, the Council then committed to reconsidering the decision, seeking the views of the Welsh Government first. The Welsh Government decided it agreed with Kathy, setting in train a sequence of events leading to humanists being admitted as members of SACs (as they are now known) across Wales; and the full inclusion of humanism in the new curriculum rolled out today.
In 2018, Humanists UK welcomed the publication of the Commission on Religious Education’s (CoRE) landmark final report which recommended that the subject of Religious Education in England be renamed to Religion and Worldviews, and be reformed to ensure full inclusion of humanism.
Notwithstanding this, the UK Government’s position on reforms to RE in England has remained non-committal. A2015 revision of GCSE and A level Religious Studies subject content saw non-religious worldviews and humanism being largely excluded from study. This resulted in Humanists UK supporting three humanist families in successfully challenging this exclusion through the courts, leading to a High Court ruling which established that religions and non-religious worldviews had to be afforded equal respect in RE syllabuses. But the UK Government has taken no steps to implement this decision, or support the many English local authorities who do take an inclusive approach.
Humanists UK continues to urge the other governments of the UK to follow Wales’ lead, making sure humanists are properly included and that humanism is taught about alongside religions.
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
Read more about our work on religious education.
Read our article about inclusive RE amendments to the Schools Bill.
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.