Humanists win vote with Newham school group

SACRE members with humanist Ed Hoyle front and centre Picture: Claire Clinton/Newham SACRE

SACRE members with humanist Ed Hoyle front and centre Picture: Claire Clinton/Newham SACRE - Credit: Archant

It what is being hailed as a “historic” decision, a religious education group has decided to treat people without faith “equally”.

The borough’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) holds sessions in schools teaching borough

pupils about faith as well as advising the local authority on schooling.

At a meeting on October 8, the group’s chair, Rev Jeremy Fraser, said it was time to let its Humanist representative vote on matters concerning the education of children.

“If we say we are open to all faiths, then we need to be open to those who have no faith – not just open, but to treat them equally,” he said.

“I love the fact that Newham is an area of strong faith, with more believers than any other borough and we are the first in London to give Humanists the vote.”

Previously, Humanist representative Ed Hoyle, of the East London Humanists, was able to attend meetings and give

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advice, in conjunction with SACRE to schools and local authority, but had no vote on proposals.

Despite this, Mr Hoyle claims that inclusion is at the fore of the group’s activities and that he has never felt marginalised for his lack of faith.

“Good religious education promotes understanding and tolerance, values which are central to Humanism,” he said. “As a Humanist, I also wish to raise awareness about non-religious beliefs.

“Throughout my involvement with the SACRE, diversity and inclusion have been two of its most valuable characteristics. Particularly in light of the borough’s multicultural identity.

“For these reasons, I am delighted to accept full voting membership of the SACRE.”

Rev Fraser said it was purely a technicality in the group’s constitution that prevented people without faith voting, but he acknowledged it was a detail that needed to change.

“This was an injustice we needed to right,” he said. “It was a technicality and at the annual general meeting we could resolve it. Ed’s point of view has always been heard in our discussions.

“The irony for me is that a

place with so many faiths is actually the place that’s saying we need to hear from people with no faith.”

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