Schools

Speakers for schools

We provide speakers for schools from year 6 to year 13 - we make no charge for this.

Over the last 10+ years we have made hundreds of school visits and spoken to over ten thousand students.

We have spoken to whole schools, whole year groups, individual classes or smaller subject groups.

We prefer to speak to class-sized groups and in some cases we have covered complete year groups, class-by-class, in a single day or spread over two or three weeks. We welcome adults (parents, other teachers) to attend our talks.

Our speakers are very well informed and, in many cases, are teachers or ex-teachers.

We are happy to fit in with whatever schools would like:

  • A presentation (30 minutes) on the Atheist Humanist world view followed by Q&A.

    We make it clear at the beginning of our talks that students are free to agree with us or disagree with us - we merely present our personal beliefs.

    By definition, an Atheist Humanist world view will challenge any students who hold strong religious views. We welcome their comments, we respect their points of view and we don't belittle them or attempt to browbeat them - though we may challenge them. Equally we welcome those who challenge our beliefs.

    "Challenge" is a good thing, it is the spark that generates thought and meaningful intellectual engagement.

  • As part of a "beliefs" day.
  • As part of a panel discussion and/or Q&A.
  • As part of a discussion or debate for sixth forms etc.
  • We have given talks about our view on abortion to years 10 and above.
  • Whatever other format a school would like. Note: we do not offer assembly talks.

We are happy to visit schools for a chat prior to using our services for the first time.

Please contact us with any questions you may have or to arrange a speaker.

Our views on religion in schools

Religion is a personal choice - after all, you are not born Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Judaist, Zoroastrian, etc.

We believe all young people have the right to make a free and informed choice about what to believe.

A free choice means one without undue external pressure.

An informed choice requires understanding a wide range of beliefs: religious and non-religious.

We support good religious education in schools, preferably as part of Philosophy and Ethics.

We support Philosophy For Children ("P4C")

We do not support acts of compulsory religious worship in schools.

We are opposed to religious ("faith") schools which we consider to be socially divisive.

We would like children from all backgrounds to learn with one another and to understand one another.

We support the work of the Accord Coalition.

Philosophy For Children (P4C)

P4C is suitable for young people from year 1 to year 13 - and beyond in the case of colleges etc.

P4Cis not a one-off, it is a regular activity that promotes a "community of enquiry" within the classroom.

P4C promotes a sense of enquiry, questioning, reason, discussion and respect for different people's ideas. It encourages thinking, communications and is an inclusive activity because everyone's point of view is valued and respected.

We have taken part in P4C sessions with students and we have used it ourselves as part of in-service training for teachers.

P4C has no pre-determined content, it has no lesson plan (though it has a structure) and it has no short-term outcome. The teacher has no idea how things will turn out and becomes a facilitator during the process.

The typical structure of a P4C session is:

  • The teacher provides a stimulus. It could be an object, a short story or an age-appropriate item from the news.
  • The class is divided into groups to talk about the stimulus and come up with questions they would like the whole class to discuss.
  • The teacher puts the questions on the board and the class votes on which should be discussed.
  • The teacher then invites students to comment on the question under discussion.
  • If the discussion of a specific question comes to a natural end the class moves on to the next question.
  • During the session the teacher encourages good discussion by asking open-ended questions and drawing out the strengths and weaknesses of comments made.
  • At the end of the session the teacher draws together the points that have been made and comments on how the discussion has gone.

If the discussion becomes too exciting (everyone wants to contribute ideas!) the teacher can introduce a speaker's "token". Children put their hands up if they wish to speak and the token is passed to the person who will speak next.

This also allows the teacher to promote a logical flow of discussion. For example, the token can be passed back to a previous speaker to allow them to respond to something said by someone else.

Over time P4C can produce fantastic results. It leads to students saying things such as:

  • "What Emily said can't be true because, as John said, ..."),
  • "Brian is making an assumption when he says ..." ,
  • "I think Wendy has forgotten ...",
  • "I agree with most of what Amelia said but I disagree about ...".

These comments come from children in Primary School!

You can watch videos of P4C sessions here.

You can find out more about P4C, and watch more videos, here.