The Welsh Government’s new education Bill has been criticised by The Christian Institute for its controversial plans for Religious Education and sex education subjects.
The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill scraps all existing safeguards with nothing offered in their place and imposes a compulsory ‘Relationships and Sexuality Education’ curriculum on all pupils from the age of three.
It will also replace RE with the new ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’ (RVE) subject, which requires all pupils to study atheism or ‘non-religious’ views, such as Humanism.
Simon Calvert, The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, said: “Members of the Senedd are being asked to vote blind for a sex education curriculum they haven’t seen, whilst stripping away protections that took decades to achieve”.
He said he had “no idea” why Education Secretary Kirsty Williams would want to abolish the safeguards, as it leaves sex education “wide open to the risk that some teachers could opt for unsuitable materials that would not have been allowed under the previous law”.
He added: “Sex education groups have a long track record of pushing unsuitable materials on schools. Teachers are under huge time pressure and few specialise in sex ed, so they could be dependent on these outside agencies for materials”.
“Currently, individual primary schools can decide whether to provide sex education. It must be provided in secondary schools, but parents have a right to withdraw their children. This is an important backstop against unsuitable teaching, since schools will not want to do anything that triggers parents withdrawing children. But this right is being abolished, despite overwhelming public support for it in Government consultations.”
Under the new system for RVE, a non-religious committee in each area is given a veto power over all religious teaching.
This means humanists, who actively oppose all religion, will be handed control over religious teaching in schools
Mr Calvert continued: “The equally sensitive issue of Religious Education is being blown wide open. Pupils will face compulsory atheism lessons with no right of withdrawal and no limit on how much ‘Religious Education’ will actually be given over to anti-religious ideologies.”
He concluded: “With the rearrangement of the system for agreeing the RE syllabus, groups like Humanists UK, whose stated goal as recently as 2011 was to rid society of religion, are being given a veto on the content of RE. This is ridiculous.
“Parents are not going to like being side-lined from their children’s education on sex and religion – the two most controversial subjects you could imagine. And schools are not going to like being forced to teach controversial material that they, or the families they serve, disagree with. It could cause chaos.”