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Public policy Wales update: October

Sam Pritchard provides an update on what's going on in public policy in Wales

The Evangelical Alliance calls on government to upholds the rights ​and responsibilities of parents. "Preserving the parental opt-out because intimate conversations deserve the opportunity of an intimate setting."

On Thursday, 3 October education Secretary Kirsty Williams announced the Welsh Government’s plan to remove the right of withdrawal for both Religious Education (RE) and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE). There will be an eight-week consultation where the Welsh Government is seeking views on this proposal from residents.

This follows a previous consultation where 89 per cent of people said they were in favour of keeping the right of withdrawal. There does not seem to be any​substantive support for this policy across Wales amongst parents. Many parents might not choose to withdraw their children from RE or RSE themselves, however they still believe that parents should have this right. Indeed, while many parents may decide it is okay for schools to teach their children sex education at the age decided by the school and government, many other parents believe intimate conversations require an intimate home-based setting and an approach based on the age of their particular child and who they are as a unique person.

The Welsh Government has frequently said that they will ensure that all curriculum and courses will be age appropriate ensuring that children will be developmentally ready. However some concerns have been raised by the Evangelical Alliance and other groups that children develop at different rates​and that parents are most often best placed to determine the appropriateness of content on these intimate issues. In many respects age is not always the most helpful indicator of maturity or ability to process.

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The Evangelical Alliance believes that the Welsh government should trust parents to know their children and to make the right decisions for them. We believe that the subjective nature of RSE is so far removed from other subjects that parents should remain a say in how it is taught. As a subject RSE is very different compared to maths and geography as there is no single way to have a relationship with someone.

Surrounding the issue of RE we believe​it is very premature to remove the right of withdrawal​before parents know what the new curriculum will look like. The Welsh Government has announced an eight-week consultation on the removal of the right of withdrawal. The Evangelical Alliance would encourage citizen participation and we would urge you to respond to the consultation.

If you have an opinion on the removal of the right of withdrawal then we urge you to tell the Welsh Government your view. Every response that is submitted will be read by civil servants and fed into a collective response. The Welsh Government consultation allows Christians, people of faith and no faith to make representation and to be heard by the government.

The consultation can be found under the heading of Ensuring Access to the Full Curriculum’.

About the author

Sam joined the Evangelical Alliance in September 2018 as the Public policy officer for Wales, he also serves as a County Councillor in Swansea. Prior to working for the Evangelical Alliance Sam has worked for both a Welsh Member of Parliament and an Assembly Member. He graduated from Cardiff University with a Certificate of Higher Education in Religious and Theological Studies before graduating with a degree in theology from Union School of Theology. Sam is married to Jess and is a deacon at his local church.

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