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Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021

School Standards and Framework Act 1998

237.Paragraph 33 inserts section 68A into Chapter 6 of the 1998 Act. This section gives the Welsh Ministers the power to designate foundation or voluntary schools in Wales as having a religious character. The Welsh Ministers previously had the power to do so under section 69(3) of the 1998 Act, but that section now applies in relation to England only.

238.Section 68A of the 1998 Act provides for existing designations made under section 69(3) of that Act to continue to have effect, but to be treated as though they were made under the new section. This is to ensure clarity and continuity for those schools already designated as having a religious character.

239.Section 68A(3) of the 1998 Act provides the Welsh Ministers with a power to make regulations setting out the procedure for designation.

240.Paragraphs 34 and 35 amend section 69 of the 1998 Act (and the italic heading before it) so that they apply to England only.

241.Paragraph 36 amends section 71(1) of the 1998 Act so that the parental right to withdraw a child from RE applies to England only. No amendment is made to section 71(1A) and (1B) of that Act, which confer a parental right to withdraw a child of compulsory school age from religious worship and a right for post-16 pupils to withdraw themselves from religious worship.

242.The Act makes no amendment to section 71(3) of the 1998 Act. The result is that if a pupil in Wales is withdrawn from religious worship the pupil may also be withdrawn from school as described in section 71(3) of that Act. In practice, this means that if a pupil is withdrawn from attendance at religious worship, and the conditions in section 71(3)(a) to (c) are satisfied, that pupil may also be withdrawn from school in order to receive RE elsewhere (subject to the limitation in section 71(4)).

243.The provision of RE for a pupil under section 71(3) of the 1998 Act does not affect the requirement under Part 2 of this Act to provide teaching and learning for the pupil that encompasses RVE. The requirement to provide that teaching and learning continues to apply in relation to the pupil, and any RE provided for the pupil under section 71(3) of the 1998 Act must be in addition (rather than instead of) the teaching and learning provided in respect of RVE.

244.Paragraph 36(5) inserts sub-section (7A) into section 71 of the 1998 Act. This subsection requires the Welsh Ministers to make regulations to ensure that, so far as is practicable, every community or foundation special school pupil in Wales attends religious worship unless withdrawn in accordance with the wishes of the pupil’s parent or, in the case of a post-16 pupil, in accordance with the pupil’s own wishes. These regulations are subject to the negative procedure as a result of the amendment made to section 138A of the 1998 Act by paragraph 38 of this Schedule.

245.Paragraph 37 amends section 124B of the 1998 Act which makes provision in relation to the designation of independent schools as having a religious character. It inserts a new subsection (A1) into section 124B of the 1998 Act, so as to apply subsections 68A(1) and (3) of that Act to independent schools in the same way as those subsections apply to voluntary and foundation schools in Wales. This means that independent schools can be designated by an order made by the Welsh Ministers as independent schools with a religious character. Section 68A(2) of the 1998 Act is not applied to independent schools by paragraph 37, as the same effect is achieved by section 124B(2) of the 1998 Act (as amended by paragraph 37(4)) in relation to designation orders that designate independent schools.

246.Paragraphs 12, 29-32, 34, 38-43, 51, 62-65 and 68-69 make minor and consequential amendments in relation to the designation of schools with a religious character. The majority of these paragraphs amend provisions in primary legislation so as to substitute references to repealed or amended provisions with references to the provisions inserted by equivalent provisions in Schedule 2 of this Act.

247.Paragraph 42 makes amendments to Schedule 19 of the 1998 Act so that it applies to England only.

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