Saturday, 22 December 2018

Joint Christianity and Humanism Lesson

This unique lesson has been developed in partnership between PACE (Programme for Applied Christian Education) and Dorset Humanists and is led by Dave Pegg (Schools Work Leader for PACE) and David Warden (Chair of Dorset Humanists).  It is available to secondary schools in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch FREE of charge!





Please email David Warden at Dorset Humanists for more information or to book the lesson for your school.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Avonbourne School "I have heard nothing but positive comments from staff and students"

David Warden of Dorset Humanists visited Avonbourne School in Bournemouth on 15th November 2017. He was accompanied by Dave Pegg, a Christian. Together they did an informal Q&A session about their respective beliefs to a class of twenty Year 9 girls.

Naomi Gill the teacher said:

"I have heard nothing but positive comments from staff and students, so thank you. We would love to have you back to do the same thing again with some other forms, so if this is something you would be interested in please let me know."

Monday, 16 May 2016

Faith Schoolers Anonymous

Dorset Humanists is a partner of the British Humanist Association (BHA).

Today the BHA announce Faith Schoolers Anonymous, a new project from our 'Faith' Schools Campaigner which helps pupils at 'faith' schools share their negative experiences with the world.
"Too often, when we act on behalf of students at 'faith' schools of all kinds – be they private Muslim schools, unregistered Jewish schools, fundamentalist Christian academies, church schools, or whatever else – their real experiences are dismissed out of hand in favour of generic remarks about the supposed virtues of faith-based education."
For defenders of 'faith' schools, this can be an effective tactic when faced with truly heartbreaking and appalling consequences of sectarian education. But by allowing the proponents of 'faith' schools to shape public debate, we neglect the most important factor of all: the human rights and experiences of schoolchildren. Whether it's children who have been reprimanded for having an inquiring mind, or condemned for their sexuality, or those denigrated for being a woman, or physically abused for getting distracted during all-day Torah study, their experiences should not be wantonly ignored.

Faith Schoolers Anonymous is here to break the silence. It aims to highlight the problems which 'faith' schools, by their very nature, help to foster, at the same time as exposing the spectacular failings of individual schools. You can support the site by reading and sharing stories at, by submitting your own stories, and by sharing your experiences using the hashtag #faithschoolsanon.


Monday, 16 June 2014

RE teachers invited to a free day conference on including non-religious perspectives - Wednesday 16 July, Central London

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is presenting a free day conference for teachers on exploring Humanism and non-religious perspectives within Religious Education (RE) lessons.

The professional conference is designed to increase the confidence of RE teachers, head teachers, Local Authority advisors and subject specialists in planning and delivering RE lessons which include humanist perspectives.

Confirmed speakers for the event include Dr Mark Charter of Culham St. Gabriel's Trust speaking on the national picture of RE, Beth Stillings Cohen and Saara Quested from 3FF (Three Faiths Forum) speaking about the ways to weave humanist perspectives into a rich and diverse RE curriculum, and Local Authority RE Advisor Nora Leonard speaking on local support for teachers and the development of agreed syllabuses.

Head of Education and Promotion at the BHA, Sara Passmore, said, 'We are seeing an increasing demand for high-quality resources and professional support from RE teachers who want to ensure that RE is broad and balanced, and reflects the range of beliefs in our society. Many teachers recognise the importance of teaching Humanism alongside religions within RE, but need training and support to confidently include Humanism in lessons.

'This conference is a first for the BHA, and is our way of supporting teachers. A growing majority of young people in Britain today are non-religious, and it's important that they are able to explore their own beliefs and develop a moral and ethical framework which will adequately prepare them for adult life. Teachers who come to the conference will be able to hear directly about practical ideas and classroom activities which can improve pupils' learning in RE, and how to deliver fully inclusive Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC) for all young people.'

The conference will take place on Wednesday 16 July, from 10am to 4pm, at Conway Hall in central London. The event is supported by the Conway Hall Ethical Society. Registration is free at - book now to reserve your place.

For further comment, detail or information, contact Sara Passmore by email at . Guests are encouraged to visit and register early to reserve their place at the conference.

Statistics on religion and belief and young people
The 2011 Census found 31% of 0-19 year olds having no religion, with a further 8% not stated; the 2010 British Social Attitudes Survey records 65% of 18-24 year olds as not belonging to any religion; a 2004 Department for Education report found 65% of 12-19 year olds are not religious; and the 2003 Citizenship Survey found 46% of 11-15 year olds not having a religion (44% were Christian).

About the British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

About our work in education
The British Humanist Association aims to ensure that Humanism is understood as an ethical and fulfilling non-religious approach to life involving a naturalistic view of the universe. Humanism has been included in Religious Education for over 50 years. We provide teachers with guidance and resources to help with planning lessons on Humanism at our dedicated website at

About Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC)
The Department for Education's statutory guidance National curriculum in England: framework for key stages 1 to 4 states that: Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based* and which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society
  • prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life

However, 'spiritual' is a problematic word for non-religious people. 'Spiritual' development became established in the Education Reform Act 1988 as one of the essential components of the curriculum, and was further established in the Education Act of 1992 as part of 'spiritual, moral, social and cultural development' (SMSC). The 1994 OFSTED Handbook stated that 'spiritual' was not synonymous with 'religious,' and this was further confirmed in OFSTED guidance in 2004.

About Conway Hall Ethical Society
Conway Hall is owned by Conway Hall Ethical Society and was first opened in 1929. The name was chosen in honour of Moncure Daniel Conway (1832 - 1907), anti-slavery advocate, out-spoken supporter of free thought and biographer of Thomas Paine.


Sara Passmore

Head of Education, British Humanist Association
39 Moreland Street, London, EC1V 8BB | 020 7324 3070 | 07795 412765 | | |
The BHA is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 285987) and depends on donations and legacies from its members and supporters to carry out its work. You can join or donate or register for our free e-bulletin online.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

British Humanist Association sends copy of The Young Atheist’s Handbook to every secondary school in Poole, Bournemouth & Dorset

Alom Shaha, YAH Author
Today the British Humanist Association (BHA) is sending a free copy ofThe Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God to every secondary school library in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset. Funded entirely from donations by many people in Dorset & beyond, the initiative is part of Dorset Humanists work to ensure that young people have access to resources that enable them to come to their own decisions about their values and beliefs.

The Young Atheist’s Handbook was written by science teacher Alom Shaha and tells the story of his upbringing in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in South East London, how he overcame his inner conflict surrounding his atheism, and the lessons he learnt in leading a good life, full of awe and wonder, based on humanist principles.

Commenting on the success of the initiative, Dorset Humanists Schools Education Project (DHSEP) Chair Chris Street said, ‘I'm really happy that young people everywhere in Dorset will now have access to this wonderful book. Alom’s message will no doubt inspire young people who are looking to find fulfilment and meaning in their lives, whatever their family background.

‘In a large number of schools across Bournemouth, Poole & Dorset, pupils will have access to a number of religious perspectives on life’s bigger questions, but not to what most non-religious people believe and how they find happiness and satisfaction in their daily lives. I believe schools should be places where pupils are free to encounter the full range of philosophies and worldviews available to them in modern Britain.’

'I'm sure it will be of great use to both teachers and young people from all backgrounds, who want to explore how people who are not religious find meaning and purpose in their lives, and make a positive contribution to our local community.'

‘I know there is plenty on offer already for young people with a religious background in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset, but I felt that books from a non-religious perspective, like this one, were sorely lacking from school libraries. In the County of Dorset, in the 2011 Census, 34.4% of young people up to 15 years and 42.8% from 15 to 24 years said they were not religious. I want to ensure that they know they are not alone. I’ve been very happy to promote this campaign alongside Dorset Humanists and the British Humanist Association at local and national levels as I feel strongly that young people should have access to the full range of beliefs and perspectives available to them in life,’ said Chris Street.


For further comment or information, contact Chris Street at Dorset Humanists by completing the form in the right column.

About the initiative The initiative was conceived by science teacher and blogger Ian Horsewell, and is supported the British Humanist Association. You can visit The Young Atheist’s Handbook for Schools campaign site at

About Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God Through a series of loose lessons Alom Shaha tells his own compelling story, drawing on the theories of some of history s greatest thinkers and interrogating the fallacies that have impeded humanity for centuries. Shaha recounts how his education and formative experiences led him to question how to live without being tied to what his parents, priests, or teachers told him to believe, and offers insights so that others may do the same.

This is a book for anyone who thinks about what they should believe and how they should live. In this powerful narrative, Shaha shows that it is possible to live a compassionate, fulfilling, and meaningful life without God.

The book is also available to buy on Free lesson materials and videos to support the book can be found on

About Alom Shaha Alom Shaha was born in Bangladesh but grew up in London. A science teacher, writer, and filmmaker, he has spent most of his professional life sharing his passion for science and education with the public.

Alom has produced, directed, and appeared in a number of television programmes for broadcasters such as the BBC, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts (NESTA) and the Nuffield Foundation.

Alom has represented his community as an elected politician, and has volunteered at a range of charitable organisations. He teaches at a comprehensive school in London and writes for a number of print and online publications.

You can follow Alom on Twitter here: @alomshaha. For further information about the book, visit

About the British Humanist Association The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

About HumanismForSchools A website dedicated to assisting teachers to teach Humanism in schools

About Dorset Humanists Schools Education Project We are humanists and atheists who are willing to assist teachers in Dorset schools in finding resources to teach non-religious worldviews in RE lessons, assemblies and other classes.

What people have been saying about The Young Atheist’s Handbook:‘Like many bright and curious children before and since — kind teachers, books, and school provided the young Alom Shaha with a ladder out of inner city poverty and an escape from his abusive, feckless father. But The Young Atheist’s Handbook is no anti-Muslim misery memoir. Rather its strength is the way he explores his life and faith scientifically, through a series of thought experiments. From its taboo busting opening, when, in a simple experiment he eats pork for the first time, Alom Shaha’s rational exploration of the corrosive power of religious indoctrination is refreshingly down to earth, heartfelt and deeply moving. It combines a raw personal story of his Bangladeshi Muslim background with the understated and carefully researched honesty of a scientist seeking the truth, and of a teacher wanting to free young minds. An inspiring and brave book that speaks for thousands who dare not admit their atheism.’ — Samira Ahmed, Journalist and broadcaster (BBC Radio 4, ex-Channel 4 News)

‘A touching personal account that makes for a courageous and compelling read. This is among the most powerful and convincing arguments against religion that I have come across, and it is written in a way that is never patronising or trivialising.’ — Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, physicist and broadcaster

‘Not just a scientist and a humanist, Alom is a warm storyteller who, through a series of loose lessons, relates how he discovered that it is possible to live a compassionate, fulfilling, and meaningful life without God or religion. Blending memoir, philosophy, and science, the book is essential reading for all young people.’ — Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association

‘This book will make you think and it’s hard to give a greater compliment than that…  a deeply personal and sensitively constructed exposition of some of the most enduring philosophical questions… Shaha has constructed a charmingly readable journey through some of the most enduring philosophical territory, weaving memories and thoughtful anecdotes into a powerful story of hope and truth.’  — RE Today

‘This is not a book to argue with – it’s a story to listen to and meditate on…it’s an honest telling of one man’s experience that everyone should read, no matter their theological stripe.’ — Thinking Christian

‘A book that destroys the cliche of the atheist as joyless rationalist and shows the humanity, love, and concern that often lies behind godless thinking.’ — Robin Ince, writer and comedian

‘More than just a great handbook, this is an honest and often very moving story about valuing truth over hope, even in the face of grief.’ — Tim Minchin, comedian

‘Illuminates the route to a better destination for all those who seek what Alom found, namely, that precious liberty of mind which makes its possessor open to all good things.’ — A.C. Grayling, philosopher and author of The Good Book