Greater Manchester Humanists 

Education (under development)






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We engage in a wide range of activities relating to education in Greater Manchester and surrounding areas, which can be grouped under the following headings:

  • syllabuses for Religious Education in state schools
  • promoting Humanism by visiting schools
  • supporting the development of university Humanist groups
  • campaigning against the growing number of faith schools
  • providing public introductory courses on Humanism


Syllabuses for Religious Education in state schools

Every metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester is an education authority. Each has a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) responsible for drawing up and overseeing the teaching of the local syllabus for Religious Education in state schools in the area. The RE syllabus is reviewed every five years.


Currently there is Humanist representation on the SACREs of about half the education authorities in England.  We are aiming to secure Humanist representation on all ten SACREs in Greater Manchester. The present position is as follows:

  • Bolton - no representation
  • Bury - no representation
  • Manchester - a GMH member is a member of the Agreed Syllabus Conference drawing up Units at all three Key Stages as part of the current syllabus review, on completion of which he expects to be invited to rejoin the SACRE on which he served for 17 years before 2002.
  • Oldham - no representation
  • Rochdale - no representation
  • Salford - no representation
  • Stockport - a GMH member is currently negotiating to join the SACRE
  • Tameside - will shortly be undertaking a syllabus review, at which time they will be giving consideration to Humanist representation
  • Trafford - there has been Humanist representation for some years, currently by a GMH member
  • Wigan - no representation

At present, Humanist representation is mostly by co-option and to a large extent at the discretion of each individual SACRE. This position may be changing soon, so that Humanist representation is encouraged; indeed it may well become a requirement for all SACREs to open full membership to Humanists.  We are therefore seeking Humanists, whether or not they are current members of GMH or the BHA, who are prepared to join their local SACRE. Non-religious parents would then have someone to represent their children’s needs and influence the RE syllabus review. We are able to offer support and help in devising suitable Humanist elements of the syllabuses at each Key Stage.


The Manchester syllabus review
There are two Units at each Key Stage. One is a statement of the core principles of Humanism, the other a series of inputs into each of the Themes proposed for all Syllabuses in the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority’s National Framework for Religious Education. An Agreed Syllabus Conference is currently reviewing the syllabus for 2010. Thematic Units that include the core principles have been submitted for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. An earlier draft in a similar format at Key Stage 3 is currently being revised. All that will then be required is reorgan-isation of the material into two Units at each Key Stage.

All the Units are set out in the format of Learning Objectives, Teaching Activities, and Learning Activities and Outcomes.


Humanism will therefore be present on the same scale as each of the major faiths – although at present without a statutory requirement that it be taught. The Manchester Units will be available to all Humanist representatives in Greater Manchester. 



Promoting Humanism by visiting schools

We welcome invitations to visit individual schools in Greater Manchester and surrounding areas to talk about Humanism as a belief system. GMH members have spoken at school assemblies, participated in spiritual awareness events with representatives of faith groups, and attended conferences on issues of religion and belief, diversity and identity. We are currently doing this about three times a term and are keen to do so more frequently. We expect this activity to expand into the areas of human rights and diversity in Citizenship studies and personal well-being in PSHE.

A project currently under consideration is to assemble a small collection of books relevant to Humanism that can be hired out to schools in connection with relevant projects, for example in 2009 on Evolution and the life of Darwin.


Supporting the development of university Humanist groups

(to be completed)


Campaigning against the growing number of faith schools

See Campaigning.


Providing public introductory courses on Humanism

Exploring Humanism - An Introductory Course will be presented on six successive Monday evenings in central Manchester from 26 October 2009. For details, contact the Secretary, email JCC.