Senedd Bites #88: Sex and religious education to be compulsory from next year

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

No parental opt-outs for sex and religious education

Ahead of next week’s publication of the final version of the new national curriculum – set to be phased in from 2022 – Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), confirmed that parents and guardians will no longer be able to opt their children out of the new relationships & sexuality education (SRE) and religious education lessons from 2021.

Despite the decision, the Minister said she would consult with faith and minority groups to develop new guidance. She said: I recognise this is a sensitive matter and the consultation responses reflected a wide range of views. There is a need for us to work with communities and all interested parties in developing the learning and teaching for RSE and RE – this work will be vital to enable everyone to have trust in how the change is implemented.”

Timetable for Bridgend Ford engine plant closure revealed

The process of closing the Bridgend Ford engine plant has started, with the workforce set to gradually reduce in phases before a complete closure in September 2020.

350 workers have already left, with another 150 set to leave when production of the Dragon engine ceases in February 2020. Further waves of 300 and 800 redundancies will occur in July and September.

A task force set up to deal with the closure has proposed three projects to economically support Bridgend in the coming years including an enterprise hub, a town centre development programme (including the possible relocation of Bridgend College) and tourism-related investments in Porthcawl.

It’s been reported than 20 companies have expressed an interest in taking over the Bridgend plant, though some are said to be concerned about the physical size of the factory.

UK Justice Minister supports new prison in Wales

UK Justice Minister, Robert Buckland MP, has said plans for a new prison in Wales are still on the table. Proposals for a “super-prison” in Port Talbot were withdrawn in 2019, but the comments were interpreted as a sign the plans could be revived.

The Minister also suggested the opening of a women’s custody facility in Wales; currently all women prisoners from Wales serve sentences in England.

A report from the Wales Governance Centre has suggested Wales has one of the highest imprisonment rates in western Europe, but the Minister ruled out devolving criminal justice in line with the Thomas Commission recommendations.

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