Statement on the consultation on RE and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in Wales

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Statement from the Catholic Education Service

High quality Religious Education is essential for producing well rounded, religiously literate young people. In a similar respect, well taught Relationship and Sex Education plays a vital role in preparing children for life in modern Wales as well as keeping them safe.

Therefore, Catholic schools already teach high quality RE and RSE, and they teach it well. In fact, our model RSE curriculum is widely recognised as best practice, not just for Catholic schools but for secular schools as well.

Nevertheless, parents are the primary educators of their children and schools exist to support, not replace them. This is particularly important when dealing with sensitive and deeply personal topics such as faith and RSE. To remove the right of withdrawal would, therefore, be huge erosion of parental rights and represent regressive step in the relationship between parents and the state.

The parental right of withdrawal is an essential principle which incentivises a constructive dialogue between schools and parents. This is what Catholic schools already do, and in 2018 no pupils were withdrawn from RSE in Catholic schools. We see this as a mark of success and not as an excuse to remove this right.

We are also deeply concerned about the proposed name change of RE to include ‘worldviews’ as this would represent a dumbing down of RE. By including a range of non-religious ‘worldviews’ into, what is in Catholic schools, an academically rigorous theological discipline, would water down RE and reduce it to an over-simplistic comparison exercise which fails to understand the deep fundamentals of faith and religion.

Background

There are 85 Catholic schools in Wales educating more than 28,000 young people and employing almost 3,000 members of staff.

The Catholic Church and the Church in Wales are the only non-state providers of schools in Wales.

The belief that parents are the primary educators of their children is enshrined in Canon Law (the law of the Catholic Church)

RSE in Catholic schools is faithful to the Church’s vision of human wholeness whilst recognising the contemporary context in which we live today.

Links to the Catholic model RSE curriculum can be found here: http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/schools/relationship-sex-education

RE in Catholic schools is at the core of the core curriculum and accounts for 10% of the timetable. Whilst predominately focused on the Catholic theological tradition, it covers all the major world faiths as well as the atheist critique of religion.