Unsafe and undemocratic Welsh education proposals

21 December 2020

Steve Beegoo, Head of Education, comments on new proposals to make sexuality and humanism teaching compulsory in Welsh schools.

A Welsh Government Bill, introduced by Kirsty Williams MS, Welsh Minister for Education, is being discussed in the Senedd. The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill has been developed to establish a new and reformed legislative framework to support the implementation of new arrangements in Wales. It includes uncontroversial aspects such as including the importance of Welsh history in the curriculum. However, there are many reasons to raise concerns about wider aspects of the bill’s content.

Despite 87.5% of the Welsh population being opposed, proposals to make sexuality and humanism teaching compulsory are being pushed forward. The existing protections which provide parents with an opt out from Sex Education and Religious Education, are planned to be removed as two new subjects become compulsory. These are Relationships and Sexuality Education and Religion, Values and Ethics. The first is even greater cover for the kind of inappropriate sexual and transgender ideology teaching being introduced across the rest of the UK, and the second is cover for reducing the amount that children will be taught about the different religions of the world.

The debate in the Senedd on 15 December showed that the Curriculum and Assessment Bill is beginning to draw greater attention from those seeing what a significant step the bill would be. An amendment was tabled protesting the removal of the parental right of withdrawal from lessons where parents currently have an opt out. However there seem to be many ‘progressives’ in the devolved parliament, who believe these changes must be made, regardless of the opinions of the majority. Thankfully, some of the MSs present made the point that in two consultations with the Welsh public the proposals had been overwhelmingly rejected. Caroline Jones stated that the government in Wales is “in effect telling parents that the state knows their children better than they do themselves.” Mark Reckless, who also opposes the bill, made clear his disturbance at how other members had shouted down Caroline’s contributions.

Sexuality and secularity

It is notable that what is being advocated is termed ‘sexuality education’, not even sex education, for both primary and secondary children. Discussions of loving one’s neighbour and respecting all people are already being developed into referencing sexual forms of ‘love’ to describe different relationships to young children. This is unnecessary in teaching children to respect all people, and many parents do not want this for their primary-aged children. Parents’ right to teach their children in line with their own philosophical and religious convictions, protected by the Human Rights Act, is being usurped by ideological progressivists through the means of education. Many parents see their children being sexualised through the teaching of schools, where there is an increasing track record of inappropriate and confusing messages being given to children who are immature and unprepared to understand issues raised.

In addition, it would be illogical to create a body to determine curriculum for Maths for schools, with organisations committed to removing Maths from schools. And yet this is what the proposals related to Religion, Values and Ethics Education bring about. Humanist committees, which are determined to remove all Religious Education from state schools, are being welcomed to have a casting vote on Religious Education curriculum matters, under the guise of balance and inclusivity. The pressure on teachers’ time is already great, and to include multiple non-religious worldviews with the ability for schools to reduce teaching about religions, can surely not be appropriate.

Raise your voice

Many understand that the sexualisation of children is making our children unsafe. We should not be encouraging children to learn about, and even make choices about, sex and gender related issues at ages when they should be playing and learning, free from the pressure of these complex ideas. Their mental health is in jeopardy, and parents are recognising this. Parents are best placed to determine the what, and the when, regarding sex and religion. The English government recently issued firm advice having recognised that inappropriate teaching needed to be curbed. Here is an opportunity for Wales to learn from the English failure to protect children.

As the Welsh elections approach in 2021, we need Christians, especially parents, to raise their voice as to what they want for their children. Votes matter to politicians. Being prepared to write to them to make your voice heard and to raise questions at local hustings on this kind of issue, makes all the difference.

Ministers are being asked to accept proposals which are unsafe and undemocratic. There is no detail provided and the efforts to change education in ways which will sexualise and secularise children for generations should be resisted. We pray that wisdom will be given to all those with the power to make decisions for the sake of the children of Wales, so that they grow up with an education which supports parents and does not proselytise with a state agenda in the controversial and sensitive areas of sex and religious education.

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