A Welsh law that will make the curriculum fully inclusive of humanism has received royal assent – meaning it is now an Act. Wales Humanists has welcomed the historic Act, calling it an enormous success for inclusive education. Humanists UK has called for the rest of the UK to follow Wales’s lead.
The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act received royal assent yesterday, and will come into force from September 2022. It means that, in line with the Human Rights Act 1998, humanism will be taught on an equal footing with religions in the school curriculum. The name of the subject of ‘religious education’ (RE) will be changed to ‘religion, values, and ethics’ (RVE), to reflect this broader scope. The Act also clarifies that humanists may sit on the bodies that oversee and develop the syllabus.
In addition to the changes to RE, the Act will introduce an array of other sweeping reforms. These include objective age-appropriate relationships and sexuality education (RSE) for all pupils aged 3-16, with no parental right to withdraw. Schools will also have a legal duty 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:
‘After many years of campaigning, we are delighted that humanism will finally be put on an equal footing with religions in the new curriculum. This is an enormous success for inclusive education and shows that Wales is very much leading the way in this area.’
Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham commented:
‘Quality teaching about different religions and beliefs enhances social cohesion and mutual understanding. It enables children to develop their own views, identities, and values by presenting them with a range of answers to questions of meaning and purpose. And it helps to educate them in the history and culture of humanity. This applies as much to teaching about humanism as it does to teaching about world religions. This is particularly true as the share of the population who are humanists continues to balloon.
‘The same archaic law that has been abolished in Wales still applies in England, and the law in Northern Ireland is even worse. We urge the Governments of the other nations of the UK to follow Wales’ lead.’