Humanist Supplement

A Humanist Supplement to the Derbyshire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education

From September 2017 schools in Derbyshire will receive the Humanist Supplement to the Agreed Syllabus for RE, offering teachers a Humanist perspective, and resources for teaching and learning for 27 units, covering EYFS, and Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

The Derbyshire SACRE approved the Humanist Supplement on 3rd July 2017, and discussed the possibility of offering training for teachers on the new resource.

Derby SACRE will consider the Humanist Supplement at the next meeting.

The Introduction to the Humanist Supplement is copied below.


The Aims and Purpose of RE

The Derbyshire Agreed Syllabus 2014-19 gives the Principal Aim of RE as:

“to enable pupils to participate in an on-going search for wisdom, through exploring questions raised by human experience and answers offered by the religions and beliefs of the people of Derbyshire and the wider community, so as to promote their personal development. “

The Principal Aim is met through two attainment targets throughout: learning about religion and belief; and learning from religion and belief. The inclusion of non-religious beliefs such as Humanism is crucial to fulfilling these aims for all children.

In order to learn from religion and belief, children with no religion need to be included in RE teaching by having their views discussed and respected. This will enable them to develop their sense of identity and belonging. By exploring Humanist answers to challenging questions about meaning, right and wrong and what it means to be human, non-religious children will have an opportunity for personal reflection and moral development.

It is equally important for children of all religions and none to develop knowledge and understanding about non-religious world views, in order to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, and to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a pluralistic society.

According to the 2011 census one third of people in Derbyshire do not have a religion, in line with national figures. More recent data such as a 2015 YouGov poll found that around half of people are not religious, and this figure is significantly higher amongst young people. It is therefore crucial that non-religious young people are given the same opportunity to explore questions of identity and morality in a way that is meaningful for them.

Overview of the Humanist Supplement

The purpose of the Humanist Supplement is to provide teachers with information and guidance to enable them to include the study of ‘World Views’ and ‘Beliefs’ within RE. The Humanist Supplement gives information on Humanist perspectives for 27 of the units in the Agreed Syllabus, and is provided in sections for each Key Stage.

In each Support Unit, there is a general statement of the Humanist answer to the Key Question, then a detailed response is provided. Both the statement and the responses contain all the relevant Humanist information needed for each Unit of Study.

Finally, a number of detailed teaching and learning suggestions are provided for each Unit of Study to explore the Humanist perspective, and these are all written at the appropriate age level. They include detailed references to material developed by Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association) in its invaluable free online resource for teachers

Background to the Humanist Supplement

The supplement has been adapted from the Manchester Humanist Supplement to accompany the Derbyshire Agreed Syllabus by Ellen Johnson, Humanist representative to the Derbyshire SACRE. The content has not been substantially altered.

The Manchester Humanist Supplement was written to accompany the Agreed Syllabus, ‘Religious Literacy for All’, adopted from 2016 by a consortium of five SACREs in Greater Manchester (Manchester, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford).

The Humanist Supplement has been written by Robin Grinter, Humanist Representative to the Manchester SACRE, and North West Regional Co-ordinator for Humanist school speakers, and in close consultation with Maurice Smith, the retired RE adviser for Tameside. Lat Blaylock, the editor of ‘RE Today’, and Luke Donnellan, Head of Education at Humanists UK, have made invaluable contributions as Assistant Editors.

Free Book ‘What is Humanism?’

From February 2017, a free book has been sent to all Primary and Secondary schools in the UK. A copy of ‘What is Humanism? How do you live a good life without God, and other big questions for kids’ by Michael Rosen and Annmarie Young, can be requested from the Understanding Humanism website.

School Speakers

Humanist school speakers can contribute to teaching and learning in a number of ways:

  • Talk about Humanism and take part in a Q&A in an assembly or in the classroom
  • Share their personal experiences, beliefs, and values and explain what being a humanist means to them
  • Give a humanist perspective on a contemporary debate (e.g. assisted dying, wealth and poverty, prejudice and discrimination)
  • Contribute to a specialist day (i.e. ‘collapsed’ or ‘off timetable’ day) for a whole-year group
  • Provide remote support to pupils when researching a particular topic, project, or investigation
  • Take part in a multi-faith panel dialogue exploring different viewpoints
  • Work directly with teachers by providing specialist information or material

School speakers can be requested from the Understanding Humanism website:

School speakers in Derbyshire can also be requested from:

South Derbyshire and Derby area

Derby Open Centre –

Derbyshire Humanists – email

Buxton and High Peak area

Greater Manchester Humanists –




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