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Harrow's Holocaust Memorial Event
January 2018

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ANNUAL REPORT 2017-18

Officers and Committee members
Chair: David Cryer  
Vice Chair: Terry Lilley  
Secretary: Julie Crow  
Treasurer: Charles Rudd  
Member: Eileen Bostle  

Committee meetings were held on 7 April and 10 November 2017.

Membership: We had 22 paid up members including one free membership for an asylum seeker. Attendance at meetings varied between 12 and 17.

Meetings Programme

  • April 2017: 'The Hidden Abuse of Apostates' Aliyah Saleem is an ex-Muslim atheist who attended an Islamic school in Britain for five years and studied the Quran in Pakistan, Having left Islam at 19, Aliyah has since spoken about ex-Muslim issues as well as advocating for secular education. She is the co-founder of Faith to Faithless which is now an official programme of Humanists UK. Aliyah has written about her work and experiences for the Times and is a board member of the Atheist, Humanist and Secular students. Aliyah told her story and discussed the general picture of apostasy and closed communities across the UK. She feels the issue has now entered into public awareness and that change is inevitable.
  • June 2017: 'How Do We Understand and React To Terrorist Attack' A video viewing of Maajid Nawaz on his personal journey of reform and the need for the 'conversation' about Islam, followed by discussion.
  • September 2017: 'The Hypocrisy of the Church of England' Michael Lawrence spoke on his research into the real motives of the Church of England in its centuries-long excursions into education, slavery, and many aspects of British public life.
  • November 2017: 'Pacifism and Remembrance' In Remembrance week we took a look at the secular history of the Cenotaph in London and how Remembrance Sunday has inserted religion into a secular event. We also watched a short video extract of a debate between Prof. Bryan Caplan and Prof. Jan Ting on the merits and de-merits of liberal intervention and the 'Just War', followed by a discussion on war, pacifism and secularism.
  • February 2018: 'The IHEU and the Growth of the Global Humanist Movement' Giovanni Gaetani (Growth and Development Officer with the International Humanist and Ethical Union) talked in a very informative and entertaining way about the work of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He gave a good worldwide overview of the development and priorities of humanist groups and the formidable issues they face in some countries, such as the death-penalty, persecution, and discrimination for atheism and 'blasphemy', FGM and anti-LGBT legislation. We also discussed current threats to humanism such as populism and extremism, and the need for cultural change aligned with legislative progress.
  • March 2018: 'The work of Atheism UK and why it's needed in today's world' Norman Bacrac (Atheism UK Council member; Trustee of the Ethical Society and former Editor of the 'Ethical Record') outlined the history, structure, and remit of Atheism UK, whilst also projecting its plans for the future. He then opened up a group discussion on key elements and definitions of humanism based on a document he had written for RE teachers.

Other activities

Harrow Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE)
Harrow's Agreed Syllabus Launch 20/06/17 at Norbury School

Julie and David as members of Harrow SACRE had a stand at the Agreed Syllabus Launch event explaining Humanism and advertising our school visitor service. We made some useful contacts with RE teachers and department Heads. Julie, as Chair of Harrow's Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC), made a speech outlining the production of the Syllabus. All local authority, community schools should be using this document as their guidance on the teaching of RE.
With the changing landscape in RE, and the recent publication of reports and Commissions on the subject, the future form of RE and SACREs is uncertain. A national entitlement for RE would be a step towards the most desirable national curriculum, but this may mean the end of SACREs. However, the various faith groups on the SACRE wish to preserve the status of both the curriculum and SACRE.

Humanists UK Education Day 25/11/17 for school speakers and SACRE representatives
David attended this event which combined and replaced the SACRE representatives AGM and the School Speakers Training and Networking Event. Alan Brine from The Commission on Religious Education talked about the report which the commission will publish at the end of 2018 and which could significantly effect the status of SACREs and the structure and scope of RE teaching in the future. There were very useful workshops and discussions for school visitors.

Harrow Humanists (HH), Harrow InterFaith (HIF) and local community engagement
David acted as a Humanist representative on Harrow Interfaith during the period 03/2017 to 03/2018. And has been re-elected to the HIF executive committee for 2018-19. He was also on the organising committee for Harrow's Holocaust Memorial Day Event in January 2018 which was held in front of a capacity audience of 400 people at the Harrow Arts Centre. It is hoped that HIF will help Humanism gain a higher local profile.

Remembrance: a secular reflection - November 2017, Fitzrovia Chapel, London
Defence Humanists held a secular reflection on Armistice Day. The event consisted of readings from members of Defence Humanists, talks from Humanists UK's Chief Executive Andrew Copson and Defence Humanists patron Professor AC Grayling, alongside music from the London Humanist Choir. The event was funded by the Ministry of Defence, underlining their commitment to support humanists and those of no religion who work within the department. Several Harrow Humanists attended this event and it was refreshing not to feel excluded by the obligatory Anglican prayers and hymns which inevitably characterise Remembrance Day events.

Schools Visits
We have begun to keep records of our school visits, as of July 2017. The number of requests has increased from that time to the present, perhaps due to the publication of Harrow's Agreed Syllabus and the event publicising it. The increase may also be due to a greater awareness of Humanism and also of the historically changing needs of multi-cultural schools.

SCHOOL DATE STAGE KEY STAGE YEAR AGE STUDENT TOTAL
Edward Betham CofE Primary, Greenford (David & Terry) 14/07/17 Primary KS2 6 11
60
Ruislip High School (David) 22/09/17 Secondary KS5 12 17
60
Elmgrove Primary (David & Terry) 04/12/17 Primary KS1 2 7
120
Hatch End High (David & Terry) 05/12/17 Secondary KS3 9 14
200
Hatch End High (David & Terry) 30/01/18 Secondary KS4 11 16
45
St Margaret's, Bushey (private school) (David) 08/03/18 Senior KS3 9 13-14
46
Sudbury Primary School (Julie) 06/03/18 Primary KS2 4 & 6 9-11
240
Sudbury Primary School (Julie) 23/03/18 Primary KS1 2 7
120
          TOTAL
891

Social Activities
We continued to have weekly "drop-in" coffee mornings on Tuesdays but have changed the venue to Pret à Manger in St Anns Road. The regular Sunday brunch continues to be held in Debenhams café.

For the annual summer outing in July 2017 Charles organised a very enjoyable day in Cambridge. Lunch at Loch Fyne restaurant in Trumpington Street was followed by a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum. We then went to see Peterhouse, the oldest of the colleges (1284), and were able to go inside the Hall, the oldest part of the college. We also visited the Chapel, the Lubbock Theatre, and the recently built Whittle building with the jet engine on display. We then had tea in the University Centre, Granta Place, overlooking the river before returning to London.

In addition to the traditional pub lunch in August, we were also royally entertained by Terry and Maureen with a lunch in their delightful garden "taverna" with food contributions from everyone and great conversation.
To celebrate midwinter in 2017, instead of an evening party, we had a December lunch at ZaZa in Pinner.


JC April 2018


 
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23-03-2017
'Our letter on new Grammar school and 100% selection plans'
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Harrow Times 23-03-17

06-10-2016
'One of our members' letter to his MP on new government Faith School plans'

01-02-2016
'RE Classes and Curriculum in Harrow'