Welsh Govt could face legal action if RSE right of withdrawal is axed

Banning parents from withdrawing their children from certain classes is a breach of human rights, the Welsh Government has been told.

Welsh Assembly members intend to remove the parental right of withdrawal from RE and Relationships and Sexuality Education lessons, but any such change to the law could see the Government taken to court.

Sir Malcolm Evans, Professor of Law at Bristol University, said the plan may contravene human rights and lead to parents seeking legal action.

Parental rights

The European Convention on Human Rights explicitly states that parents have a right to bring up their children in accordance with their religious or philosophical convictions – a right which extends to how they are educated.

Sir Malcolm said the right of withdrawal is “a useful and important safety valve”.

“a useful and important safety valve”

He said it ensures that “those parents and children who genuinely find it impossible to reconcile their beliefs with the content of an education of that nature” are allowed to exempt themselves.

He added: “For that is, in my view, what human rights law says they are entitled to”.


The Christian Institute said: “Parents’ legal right of withdrawal acknowledges that the responsibility for raising and educating children lies with parents, not the state.

“Undermining it in any way would shift authority from the parents to the state”.

Humanists UK also criticised the plans, because they believe that pupils of no faith, or other faiths, may be subjected to one-sided teaching in faith schools.

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