Teaching children and young people about Humanism is usually planned as part of the religious education (RE) programme in schools. Humanism has been an optional part of RE for over a decade, during which time guidance and support for teaching about it has increased significantly.
In Local Authority schools in England, the RE syllabus is written by the local authority’s Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE). These committees are expected to follow guidance from the Religious Education Council. The latest guidance, entitled Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England October 2013, makes clear that Humanism is considered an essential part of every RE syllabus. Most of the current local syllabuses require pupils to have some knowledge of Humanism.
Following national and local policies, as well as legal cases, humanists are increasingly represented on SACREs. We are members of several of the SACREs in the North East.
North East Humanists have a team of trained, experienced school speakers who are available to come into schools to lead assemblies, teach lessons or contribute to inter-faith events. These can be general introductions to Humanism or can focus on particular issues. We are able to draw on a rich range of materials provided by Humanists UK as well as other sources and our own experiences. Several of our speakers are also humanist celebrants.
The team also offers professional development for teachers and presentations to adult groups who wish to know more about Humanism.
We are not anti-religious but work with people of various faiths and are sensitive to the values and beliefs of pupils, teachers, and other adults. We concentrate on our own beliefs without denigrating those held by others.
If you are interested in having a school speaker, please contact:
Kate Hinton, Education Officer, North East Humanists / T. 0191 285 1585 / firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also book a visit through the Humanists UK website, which includes a wealth of freely available information and educational resources.
On the broader front of campaigns, NEH is too small to mount its own national campaigns. So, we support the Humanists UK’s national campaigns, such as the one against the privileges and discriminatory practices of Faith schools. Faith schools are publicly funded by the taxpayer but are allowed to use religious belief as a criterion for admission and employment. Most of these are Church of England or Roman Catholic schools and there are also a small number of Islamic schools. Humanists see these as socially divisive and are committed to the principle that all schools should be places where children and young people of all faiths or none learn, socialise, and play together in socially cohesive communities.