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Humanists UK launches manifesto for the future of education in the UK

Humanists UK has published a new manifesto setting out its vision for the future of education in the UK.

Humanists UK’s Manifesto for Inclusive Schools outlines seven key ways the school system must change to ensure that all children receive the broad and balanced education to which they are entitled – free from religious indoctrination, and in schools that are open to all, regardless of background. Humanists UK believes that the changes are more vital now than ever before, as they hope the manifesto may influence the schools system post-pandemic.

The manifesto says the school system should be urgently reformed in the following ways:

  1. Open admissions: State-funded schools should be open to all regardless of religion or belief, with pupils from different backgrounds educated together, free from discrimination.
  2. Pluralistic ethos: Schools should avoid promoting any one religious or humanist perspective, serving all members of their local community equally and without prejudice.
  3. Inclusive assemblies: Compulsory religious worship should be replaced with assemblies that enrich all children irrespective of their differing beliefs.
  4. Broad, balanced, and objective teaching about religions and humanism: The curriculum should cover a range of religions and humanism in a balanced, objective way. Humanism should be included on an equal footing with major religions.
  5. Comprehensive, accurate, and age-appropriate RSE: All children should receive comprehensive, factually accurate, and age-appropriate information on relationships and sex that is LGBT-inclusive. There should be no faith-based exemptions or parental right to withdraw.
  6. Safe environments: All private settings providing full-time education should be registered. They should teach a broad and balanced curriculum and provide a safe, hygienic environment for pupils that is inspected in the same way as state schools.
  7. Fair employment: There should be no religious discrimination in the employment of teaching or non-teaching staff.

Commenting on the manifesto, Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said:

‘The coronavirus pandemic has brought education to the forefront of public attention. Given this scrutiny and the lasting change that may well follow, it’s worth remembering that when it comes to religion,  our archaic school system is broken. The law currently permits divisive state-funded faith schools to select their pupils based on religious background alone – something that is very unusual internationally – and to teach from just one faith perspective. It also mandates indoctrinatory Christian worship in all schools without a religious character – something that is unique.

‘What’s more, despite the ever-increasing number of non-religious people – who now number more than half the UK population – humanism is routinely excluded from the school curriculum, unlike any of the six major religions.

‘Our manifesto sets out our vision for a brighter future, in which all schools are open, pluralistic, and inclusive, and where every child receives the broad and balanced education to which they are entitled regardless of their background or belief. We will continue to do all we can to make this vision a reality.’

Humanists UK is currently fundraising for the salary and resourcing costs of its dedicated education campaigner. The appeal was recently launched by Humanists UK patron and children’s rights activist Alf Dubs. Supporters of Humanists UK’s vision for a fairer education system are urged to donate at www.justgiving.com/nofaithschools.

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham at ruth@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3000 or 07725 110 860.

Read our most recent article on Alf Dubs launching fundraising drive to challenge faith school discrimination.

Read our news item on the Church of England school banned from using weekly church attendance in its admissions policy.

Read our recent article about how faith school admissions discriminate against vulnerable children.

Read our recent research on the impact of religiously selective admissions in Liverpool.

Read more about our work on faith schools.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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