Articles by DASH supporters and speakers have appeared in:
- "RE Today" (Autumn 2013) under "Happiness for Humanists."
- "Opening up community: learning from religion" by Fiona Moss where we helped with the sections on Humanism.
DASH supporters also helped to revise the Agreed Syllabus for RE for both Derby City and Derbyshire.
We can put potential users of our services in contact with schools we have previously visited and we list below a small number of the emails we have received.
This email was received from a primary school visited by one of our speakers who spoke to year 6.
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. We all thought the session was absolutely fantastic and thank you so much
I taught the children again yesterday and shared your invitation with them and they were overwhelmingly delighted at the thought that you could come back and share in a discussion session with them so we would love to take up your kind offer!
We could do it across one afternoon to spare your travelling time and do a session in each class as we had originally planned.
Do you envisage that we would have some of the 'big questions' up as a starter and see where the discussion goes? We watched one of the Humanist film clips about death narrated by Stephen Fry yesterday and that opened up a lot of questioning. I wonder if we could use some of the other films as an opener for discussions.
Your booklets would be very useful to look at and refer back to during our work.
I certainly will be recommending you to colleagues in other schools.
Deputy Head Teacher "
This email was received from a primary school visited by one of our speakers who spoke to three year 6 classes.
Many thanks for speaking to our year 6 classes.
I am pleased to say their response was the same as in previous years - lots of ideas, lots of questions and lots of discussion.
I am moving on later this year but I have passed your contact details to one of my colleagues and I am sure she will be in touch with you at the same time next year.
I have always looked forward to your visits - they are never the same from one year to the next so I learn something new every time you come!
I wish you every success with your visits programme - all children should get a chance to hear both sides of the religious debate.
This email was received from a secondary school visited by one of our speakers who spoke to year 7 and year 9.
"I would just like to say a huge thank you for giving up your valuable time to visit us on Monday.
The students gained a lot from your visit and many have been talking about the issues raised since, which is really encouraging.
We would love it if you could visit the college again at some point this year, particularly to speak to GCSE students, and possibly to do some kind of debating activity which students would prepare for beforehand.
I will be writing an article for the college newsletter (with photos!) on your visit, so that the rest of the students and their parents can find out about your contribution to the studentsí wider understanding of the world.
It was extremely kind of you in your busy lifestyle to give up your day, and again we really appreciate it.
This email was received from a secondary school visited by one of our speakers who spoke to nine year 9 classes.
Thank you for coming in and speaking to our students. I really appreciate the time and effort you have put into the sessions. Seeing how you have developed and customised your presentation over the visits has been very interesting, and shows how much you've put into personalising the sessions for our students.
Having seen the session on Friday, I think you are right about the smaller groups working much better. This is definitely something to bear in mind for any future sessions.
Thank you for sending me the resources you have used.
The students all clearly like you and want to hear what you have to say, which is half the battle in engaging them! They all have an interest in what you are saying; introducing yourself and contextualising your talk through the astronomy/cosmology works very well.
Thanks again for your help! I will have a think and let you know if there is any way I can possibly fit you in with Y11. I will also pass on your details to sixth form.
This email was received from a secondary school visited by one of our speakers who provided talks to year 11 groups.
I really enjoyed your presentation on Friday and so did the students. I am looking forward to discussing it with them next Friday.
I am sure they would love to discuss specific topics with you to get your perspective. We'll have to see what we can do. I agree that we could have done with more time on Friday!!!!!
With regard to a philosophy club ,we are in the process of starting one up with a few year 8 students. The idea came from them so we are going to run it. I was thinking of inviting you along once it was up and running. Will keep you posted.
Have you thought about how you are going to do the year 12 session? It's a group of 9 students. We usually set the room up in a discussion circle to encourage a bit of discussion.
Many thanks again.
This email was received from a secondary school visited by one of our speakers who held discussions with three year 11 groups.
Many thanks for returning to lead the discussion groups around "The Big Questions".
Our students had been very interested in your original presentation a few weeks ago and they were very keen to have more time to talk over the ideas and questions you raised.
I liked the way you gave a quick summary of your views on The Big Questions and then allowed students to develop the arguments for themselves. I was impressed by how you held back from intervening all the time so students could exchange views with one another. Perhaps it is a case of "once a teacher, always a teacher!"
Your interventions at key points were much appreciated, I won't say you lobbed grenades into the discussion but you certainly caused students to concentrate on their responses.
The students enjoyed it, and I, along with my colleagues, enjoyed it, I know that because of the discussion in the staff room later in the day!
We look forward to having you back again next year
Warts and all
The emails above are typical of the responses we get to our school visits - the response is always positive.
However, we haven't always got it right. A few years ago, at the end of a presentation to over 100 sixth formers (not the best way to do things - we prefer class groups) the speaker was told by one of the students that this was the first and only exposition of the atheist humanist world view they had been given in their entire school career. The speaker had obviously had a bad week and reacted inappropriately. He had his wrist slapped and has not done it again.
It is no defence but you have to admit that it can be fairly upsetting to find out that, after 13 years of full time education and weekly RE lessons, pupils had never had a chance to hear from those who try to lead happy, fulfilled and responsible lives without god and religion.
We are human, we make mistakes and we learn from them, but, apart from this one case, we get it right and we guarantee that teachers and students will enjoy our presentations - they certainly won't nod off!