SEVERAL councils in Gwent are considering allowing humanists to have their say on religious education in their schools.

Local authorities across Wales have Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs) to oversee the teaching of the subject.

Membership is determined by councils and their SACREs, but legislation suggested that allowing Humanists would be 'contrary to legal provisions'.

But following a legal challenge by Wales Humanists last year, the Welsh Government has ruled that those with non-religious beliefs can now sit alongside faith representatives on SACREs.

The decision was announced by Kirsty Williams AM, the cabinet secretary for education, in May of this year.

Currently the only SACRE in Gwent to have humanist representation is Blaenau Gwent, although as a co-opted member they are unable to take part in group votes.

Monmouthshire County Council’s SACRE has not formally considered an item on Humanist inclusion but 'discussions around membership have taken place'.

A council spokeswoman added: “The group have not given formal consideration to alter the membership of the committee however this may change in the future.”

Torfaen council has also confirmed that they do no have Humanist representation on their SACRE.

But SACREs in Newport and Caerphilly will consider allowing Humanists among their ranks this week.

Both councils have received requests to join their respective advisory bodies, with 'life-long' Humanist Clare James writing to Newport City Council in February.

The letter reads: “I believe I would make valuable contribution to the work of the SACRE due to my background in religious studies and philosophy and as a humanist, to ensure religious education remains diverse and relevant in Newport.”

In Caerphilly a member of the British Humanist Association, Ken Chamberlain, was refused membership to the SACRE in October 2017, alongside a Methodist Church member.

A council report says Mr Chamberlain was told his membership would not meet the now-changed Welsh Government guidance.

Meanwhile the Methodist preacher was told he would meet the criteria subject to an endorsement from the Methodist Church.

Both requests were eventually declined as Caerphilly’s SACRE had no vacancies at the time of application.

But following the change in legislation, Mr Chamberlain has asked the council to allow a Humanist as full members of the group.

SACREs in Caerphilly and Newport will discuss Humanist membership on June 13 and 14 respectively.