Humanists UK is pleased to announce that Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson and Andrew Moffat, the headteacher and assistant headteacher at two Birmingham primary schools facing anti-Relationships Education protests by religious activists, will deliver the Blackham Lecture 2019, on ‘The Struggle for Children’s Rights’, in Birmingham on Monday 21 October.
Hewitt-Clarkson is headteacher at Anderton Park Primary School and Moffat is assistant headteacher at Parkfield Primary School. Both schools have seen high-profile and highly disruptive protests from conservative religious parents, opposed to their children learning about equality, respect, and even the mere existence of LGBT people.
The protests have shed light on a clash of worldviews. On the one hand, the protesters have advanced the view that parents should have a veto over what their children are taught, particularly on subjects such as human relationships, where factual education can be in tension with people’s beliefs. The other view, championed by humanists (among many others), holds that every child has basic rights of their own, including a positive right to receive a full, comprehensive, and objective curriculum which helps to make them happy, healthy, and safe, while promoting understanding of people from different walks of life.
Humanists UK, which successfully campaigned for Relationships Education to be taught in all schools by law, has been supporting teachers affected by similar protests around the country, pushing MPs to better support schools, and helping to dispel pernicious myths about what exactly is taught in such lessons.
Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham, a doctor in the philosophy of education, will chair the event.
Early bird tickets for the Blackham Lecture are available at humanists.uk/blackham2019.
The lecture is being organised in collaboration with Birmingham Humanists, a partner of Humanists UK. Birmingham Humanists Secretary Carolyn Sugden said, ‘We are delighted to have two brilliant local teachers present this year’s Blackham Lecture on such a vital local and national issue.’
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, said, ‘This year’s Blackham Lecture is being given by two teachers who have foregrounded children’s rights in their work, and supported their pupils to one day navigate the world around them as confident, tolerant, and fully informed adults. Their unique insights and experiences should make for a brilliant exploration of one of the most important educational issues of our times.’
The Blackham Lecture is an annual event, held in association with Birmingham Humanists. It explores an aspect of education, either philosophical, practical, or social, that relates to humanism. The Blackham lecturer will have made a significant contribution in one of these fields.
The lecture is named for the educationist and activist Harold Blackham, first executive director of Humanists UK and a co-founder of Humanists International.