A significant part of our output, which often receives less attention, is our submissions to Government or international bodies' consultations. A selection of these submissions can be found below.
This consultation is in relation to the implementation of the legal duty under section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 - and will inform a new framework for access to abortion services in Northern Ireland that is consistent with the recommendations of the 2018 United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Report, Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland under article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
In its response, the NSS has emphasised that women's rights to a safe and legal abortion should be extended, and should not be compromised by religious concerns.
Our consultation response on proposals to remove the right to withdraw from religious education (RE/RW) and relationships and sexuality education (RSE) in Wales.
- We have no objection in principle to a removal of the right to withdraw from a fully reformed Religious Education or Religions and Worldviews subject. However, our support for any removal is contingent on institutional and cultural change to ensure the subject area is genuinely objective, critical and pluralistic. In our view, the current reforms do not go far enough to justify ending this long-standing right at this time.
- For as long as faith schools remain part of the educational landscape, with the ability to teach RE in a way that accords with its faith basis, parental freedoms and children's independent rights must be protected by a right of withdrawal.
- We believe the potential harms caused by denying children access to comprehensive relationships and sex education justify ending the right to withdraw from this subject.
This Online Harms White Paper set out the government's plans for new online safety measures to make companies more responsible for their users' safety online, especially children and other vulnerable groups.
It proposed establishing in law a new duty of care towards users, which will be overseen by an independent regulator. Companies will be held to account for tackling a comprehensive set of online harms, ranging from illegal activity and content to behaviours which are harmful but not necessarily illegal.
We welcome many of the actions the government proposes to take to tackle online radicalisation and extremism. However, we were concerned that some of the proposals may severely impact upon freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
This consultation was a follow-up to the consultation and call for evidence on elective home education held by the Department for Education in 2018.
It sought views on proposed legislation to establish a register maintained by local authorities of children not attending mainstream schools, together with associated duties on parents and the proprietors of certain educational settings. It also consulted on proposed legislation to establish a duty to support parents who educate children at home and seek support from their local authority in doing so.
The Welsh government consulted on the legislative framework to facilitate the new curriculum's implementation. This includes:
- The purpose and structure of the curriculum
- The Welsh and English languages
- Relationships and Sexuality Education for 3 to 16 year olds
- Religious Education for 3 to 16 year olds
- Right to withdraw from RE and RSE
- The assessment of learners.
The Welsh government consulted on the the statutory guidance for the reformed Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum.
We supported the changes, but not the faith schools containing to teach the subject through a faith ethos. RSE shouldn't be undermined by, or used to promote faith based perspectives.
RSE should be comprehensive, developmentally appropriate and non-discriminatory, in all schools.
This consultation seeks views on potential improvements to the statutory charity regulation framework in Scotland, in light of proposals put forward by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). The proposals broadly focus on improvements to charity law that would increase transparency and accountability in order to maintain public trust and confidence in charities and OSCR.
The NSS agrees with most of the proposals put forward to improve transparency, compliance and accountability. We also proposed that the Scottish government consider removing "the advancement of religion" from the list of charitable purposes.
Hundreds of thousands of young people attend out of school settings or supplementary education (OOSS). For many this is an enriching and rewarding experience, however too often a lack over oversight and accountability means children's welfare is out at risk.
Our response focuses on:
- Ensuring authorities with responsibilities for child safeguarding are acting appropriately.
- Ensuring that legitimate OOSS are not used as cover for unregistered (illegal) and unaccountable faith schools.
- Challenging institutional religious child abuse.
- Ensuring that children's rights are not undermined on account of their or others' religion or belief.
The Scottish Government is considering the recommendations from Lord Bracadale's 'Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland' in order to inform the modernisation and reform of hate crime legislation in Scotland.
In response to its consultation, we have emphasised the importance of protecting free speech, countering sectarianism by promoting secular education, and repealing blasphemy laws.