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Danny Lawson/ PA Wire
Pupil hand raised Photo credit Danny Lawson PA Wire.jpg
Danny Lawson/ PA Wire
UK News

Christian charity slams mandatory religious and sex education as 'an assault on the freedom of parents'

by Tola Mbakwe

The Christian Institute has expressed concerns about the rights of parents in Wales being violated after the Welsh Government announced parents will no longer be able to opt their kids out of sex or religious education.

Authorities announced on Wednesday Welsh children from the age of five will be taught religious education (RE) and relationships and sexuality education (RSE) regardless of their parents' wishes.

"After careful consideration of the responses, I can confirm that there will not be a right to withdraw from RE and RSE as part of the new curriculum. This change will require careful and sensitive implementation," Education Minister Kirsty Williams said.

John Denning, education officer for the Christian Institute, told Premier News Hour although it's rare parents opt their children out RE and RSE, they should still have the right to do so.

"I think it is it is an assault on the freedom of the parents to make sure that their children are brought up with the values that they hold, which is protected in the European Convention on Human Rights," he said.

"So it'll be interesting to see, how this plays out. But I would hope that even if the Welsh Government is successful in removing the legislation that gives parents that automatic right to withdraw, that schools will still have the sense to listen carefully to parents concerns and take them into account."

The Welsh Government began a project in October collecting feedback on changing the curriculum to remove the option for parents to stop children studying RE and RSE.

The responses were varied and showed "strong and deeply held concerns", Ms Williams said.

"These went further than the question of right to withdraw itself, and extended to the appropriate role of the state in education on these matters and what and how learners will be taught," she added.

Denning said that schools should make necessary steps to engage with parents who are concerned by the new change.

"I think what should be happening is that schools and parents should be working very closely together.

"Parents should be asking 'can I see examples of what you're using in teaching these subjects?' And schools should be welcoming parents' input because parents are the experts on their own children, and they know what is age appropriate.

"Schools need to respect the fact that there is a range of opinion within society, on issues of sexual ethics, of human identity, and on a religion and they should be respecting that as their teaching."

Ms Williams said significant feedback would be collected and trials undertaken before the new curriculum begins in September 2022.

England's curriculum will also be updated this September when three new subjects - relationships education in primary school, relationships and sex education at secondary school, and health education for all ages - become compulsory.

Listen to Denning speaking on Premier News Hour :


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