Concerns Raised over Provision of Religious Education in Wales
A century after Wales experienced a religious revival, concern is growing that the nation's spiritual heritage is being watered down by an education establishment determined to sideline the spiritual.
Anxieties have been given new urgency by the findings of the Chief Inspector of Education in Wales.
The Estyn report found only six out of 10 schools were doing a good job in developing pupils' spiritual, social, moral and cultural awareness.
About half the schools 'have weaknesses in the quality of their provision for pupils' spiritual development.'
Many schools were flouting the legal requirement to hold a daily act of collective worship.
There are concerns today that the religious education will be frozen out of the new foundation phase for the youngest children and the Welsh Baccalaureate.
Aled Edwards of Cyt[currency]n (Churches Together in Wales) recently met education officials to voice his concerns about the new Welsh qualification.
'There has been this secular feel to it,' he said. 'It doesn't take RE seriously.
'We received assurances there wasn't a plot to get rid of RE. We are going to raise the issue at the [National Assembly's] Interfaith Council and the governing body of the Church in Wales.'
Rheinallt Thomas of Anglesey's Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education was also concerned there was a 'writing-out of religion' in the proposals for changes to the way young people are taught in Wales.
He said, 'This seems to be a regular pattern. In the Baccalaureate document it's not there. In the foundation phase document it's not there.'
Learning about religions and being able to think through the questions which are raised is, he believes, a vital element of education.
'This is the time when they are most able to discuss questions,' he said.
'There's more than a natural body within the constitution of a human being. Most human beings throughout the world respond to a higher being. He or she has to be nurtured and have the opportunity to make up his or her own mind.'
Mr Thomas was sympathetic to the challenges schools face in trying to organise acts of collective worship. …