JULY 2020 

The changing landscape of RE in Wales

The landscape of education in Wales is set to change, and not just because of Covid-19! In January 2020 Welsh Government published the Curriculum for Wales which champions a more integrated approach to learning, though not exclusively, with RE forming part of the Humanities area of learning and experience. This means that by September 2022 RE will no longer stand outside the ‘national curriculum’, but will be part of it for the first time. The new curriculum in Wales focuses on ‘what matters’ in each area of learning and experience, and is based on the principle of subsidiarity, which gives each school in Wales the opportunity to design its own curriculum. Whilst RE will remain statutory and retain its own specific legislation surrounding this, that legislation will be amended to reflect this new approach. This is a time of opportunity and challenge for SACREs in Wales as they respond to the changing landscape of RE in Wales.

The first major change is the name; from ‘religious education’ to ‘religion, values and ethics’, or RVE. The second will be a number of significant changes to current legislation which could have serious consequences for RE in Wales and beyond. The proposals for these changes are currently still in consultation and WASACRE has urged as many groups and individuals as possible to respond to this consultation in order to have their voice heard.     

Due to the importance of this consultation WASACRE has met with several organisations, including the REC to enable the widest possible discussion on the proposals in order to inform its own carefully considered response. WASACRE has reached out to its member SACREs to support them in responding too, by offering a Q and A session to representatives of individual SACREs and also to offer advice on how to meet during these unprecedented times, in order to produce a response that is representative of its own local membership. As you can imagine, being in lockdown during this consultation has been very challenging for WASACRE and its members SACREs!

Representatives of WASACRE and its sister organisation the National Advisory Panel for Religious Education (NAPfRE) have been involved in the drafting of the new RVE Framework, which will form part of the statutory guidance for the Curriculum for Wales once it has been published. The document will be shared with SACREs and other key stakeholders for initial feedback, followed by a formal consultation which is expected some time in the autumn, so keep your eyes peeled!

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the WASACRE Executive Committee has reached out to schools and local authorities to offer support and guidance in a sensitive and helpful way by producing a document called, Advice for Schools in Wales on Collective Worship during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The advice focuses on the well-being of our learners, which includes their spiritual, social and emotional well-being too. It encourages schools to continue offering regular collective worship assemblies during this time, giving opportunities for all members of the school community to stay connected in a way that is meaningful for them.

As the future of education remains uncertain, with schools trying to plan for a number of different scenarios in September, WASACRE is keen to continue to support schools with RE going forward.  We know that many teachers, especially those in secondary schools, have plenty of resources to support their learners with blended learning from a variety of organisations, including from each other. The WASACRE Executive Committee has committed to raising its own profile on social media in order to provide schools and teachers with a more visible and accessible route to the right advice and support for RE and collective worship.  The Association is currently in the process of designing a new website. There is a presence on Facebook and we have stepped up our use of Twitter to disseminate information about the latest developments here in Wales, and the wider world.