Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education
In the consultation, published earlier this year, Our National Mission: A Transformational Curriculum, I asked about the current arrangements which allow parents to prevent their child studying Religious Education (RE) and Sex Education (unless it forms part of the National Curriculum programme of study).
Our vision is for a fully inclusive education system where all learners have the equity of access to education that meets their needs and enables them to participate in, benefit from and enjoy learning.
RE and RSE are statutory subjects within the current curriculum. We propose that these subjects will continue to be statutory within the new Curriculum for Wales 2022 framework.
Through RE, learners explore the range of spiritual, philosophical, moral, social and cultural beliefs within their community, across Wales, and throughout the world. I am proposing to change the name of Religious Education to “Religions and Worldviews”, which appropriately reflects teaching practice within the new curriculum, and allows for the exploration of a range of religious and philosophical beliefs, as well as other beliefs and world-views, including non-religious world views.
Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that all children and young people, through state education, have access to learning that supports them to develop knowledge of their own communities and country, as well as knowledge, empathy and understanding of different people, cultures and communities.
Understanding their rights and the rights of others is important to the fulfilment of the purposes of the purposes of the new curriculum. Children should be provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm and allows them to navigate the world in which we live, one that is constantly changing and evolving from the world in which we or their parents grew up in.
All teaching and learning must be developmentally appropriate. It must be clear to parents what their children will learn and easy for them to be able to engage in dialogue with schools about this and other parts of the curriculum.
The teaching and learning in each school will be able to draw on a framework we will provide in guidance and should reflect the community (and country) the school serves.
I am minded to ensure all children and young people are required to study RE and RSE in the new curriculum, rather than continue the anomaly that parents can take the decision to prevent children from attending these specific and core lessons.
Therefore, I am today launching a consultation seeking views on the practical implications of such a change. This provides an opportunity for parents, teachers, young people and stakeholders to help shape this important area of the curriculum.
In taking this action, I am fully aware that we need to work with parents and carers. We will and must respect their views and look at how we can balance the rights of parents to develop, care and guide their children into adulthood, whilst delivering on our duty to provide a broad and balanced education so that children develop into modern and full citizens, as well serving the public good.