NSS response to RVE proposals in Wales

The National Secular Society welcomes the Welsh Government's intention to replace Religious Education with the teaching of Religion, Values & Ethics and recognises the progress made towards a more pluralistic and balanced curriculum, in line with what we should expect our schools to teach in the 21st century.

However, the current proposals fall substantially short of their own ambitions. Many pupils attending faith schools will continue to be denied an objective, critical and pluralistic education. The plans will also perpetuate existing problems regarding the heavy influence of religious interest groups over the subject in all schools. New problems will also be created – not least with the introduction of a divisive dual system of teaching RVE in faith schools and the removal of the parental right to withdraw.

  • The current proposals will create a dual system regarding the teaching of RVE across Wales, exacerbating a divisive approach to how the subject is taught.

  • We find it difficult to see how, in practice, faith schools will run two RVE curricula in parallel and that a biased and confessional approach to RVE will still dominate in many schools – creating unnecessary segregation in the teaching of religion, values and ethics.

  • We are deeply concerned at the message this dual approach would send to children across Wales and believe this runs counter to the ambitions that Welsh Government has set out to achieve with its reforms. Children across Wales should all have the same entitlement to a pluralistic, objective and balanced RVE curriculum; this should not be put at risk simply because of the type of school they attend.

We are urging the Welsh Government to reassess its proposals in order to implement a religion, values and ethics curriculum that is genuinely pluralistic and balanced. To achieve this, we are calling on the Welsh Government to:

  • Implement a duty on all schools to teach an objective, critical, and pluralistic RVE syllabus, without exception.
  • Abolish SACREs, so that religious interest groups do not control the subject.
  • Pause on removing the right to withdrawal until the new curriculum has had time to bed in.

Take action

The support of NSS members will be critical in helping us to seek transformative change to the teaching of RVE in Wales – which could act as an exemplar for how the subject should be taught across the UK, more widely. If you live or attend school in Wales, please respond to the consultation by Tuesday 28 July 2020.

Welsh govt plans would see Religion, Values and Ethics taught in a more pluralistic way. But they fall short of ensuring every pupil gets genuinely balanced and critical RVE. Find out more and help improve the proposals.
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Next steps

We are asking or all our supporters across the UK for their experiences and views on the right to withdraw from religious education. This will help inform our response to the consultation and wider work on RE reform across the UK.

We are also strongly encouraging supporters in Wales to write to their Senedd members about the proposals and have created a template letter to make this easier.