Parents in Wales will not be allowed to remove their children from lessons on religion or sexuality from 2022, if the Government succeeds in changing the law.
Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams announced her intention today, despite two consultations revealing deep concerns about the proposal.
The Christian Institute said the right of withdrawal is an “important backstop protection” and parents must speak out to protect it.
To make the change, the Welsh Government must pass new legislation to strip out the current parental right of withdrawal.
In October, a Government consultation revealed that nine in ten members of the public opposed the plans.
In response, the Government opted to hold another consultation. This one also showed people were concerned about the “disconnect” between parental values and the content that could be taught.
In announcing the desire to remove the right of withdrawal across both primary and secondary schools, Williams acknowledged it would need to be done ‘carefully and sensitively’.
Williams said the Government would be working with religious groups to discuss their concerns.
John Denning, Education Officer at The Christian Institute, said it was vital the Government did not weaken the current system.
“Historically, the existing right of withdrawal has been rarely used but is an important backstop protection which discourages schools from adopting radical approaches. The Government must listen to the public’s response and change course.”
‘Parents know best’
Mr Denning continued: “Parents are right to be concerned about whether the sort of material and beliefs likely to be forced on pupils are really appropriate for their own children.”
He added: “One primary pupil at Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd summed up what he had learnt from a trial of these new lessons on relationships: ‘Be yourself, and if anyone judges you, don’t listen to them, and just do whatever you want.’
“Many parents in Wales will agree that is supremely bad advice if you want to help create loving relationships.”
“Officials and ministers must listen to what parents say because parents know best what is age-appropriate for their own children.”