School Speakers FAQs

Training and accreditation

 

Q. How can I (or somebody I know) train to become a school speaker?

A. You can find information about how to become a school speaker here, where you can also sign up to our mailing list to hear about upcoming courses.

 

Q. Where can I find an application form or further information about the course?

A. If you have heard about a training course and would be interested in applying, contact schools.training@humanism.org.uk to ask for an application form and the training information.

 

Q. Do I have to be a Humanists UK member to become a school speaker?

A. Yes.

 

Q. Can anyone visit a school to talk about Humanism?

A. It is up to schools whom they decide to invite in. However, we recommend to schools that they invite in Humanists UK trained and accredited school speakers, and we encourage anyone interested in speaking in schools to attend one of our free training courses to ensure schools receive a high-quality service that fulfils their needs.

 

Q. Why wasn’t I accepted onto the course?

A. Our course are often oversubscribed and we are unfortunately unable to provide places for everyone interested to train. We are unable to offer specific feedback on applications.

 

Q. Why didn’t I pass the course?

A. If you did not pass the course the Head of Education will inform you in writing and will be happy to discuss the reasons you did not pass with you on the telephone.

 

Q. Can I get a copy of the presentation from the training course?

A. Yes. Click here.

 

Q. Can I observe another more experienced school speaker before I visit a school on my own?

A. We will do our best to make this happen. If there is a regional school speakers network in your area, then contact the regional coordinator to see if they can help. However, please be aware that in some parts of the country it can be difficult to find another local school speaker. (If you do not know your regional coordinator, please email the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk.)

 

Q. I’ve passed the course but not yet been fully accredited yet. Can I visit schools? How do I get accreditation?

A. Once you have passed the course you can visit schools. To become fully accredited, you’ll need to be observed on a visit or collect three pieces of positive feedback from separate schools.  It is important that new speakers who have not yet been fully accredited inform schools that they are still working towards accreditation and encourage schools to offer feedback on their visits in order to help inform and improve their practice.

 

Q. Can you arrange for somebody to observe me so I can get accredited?

A. Following the training course, we will endeavour to arrange for you to be observed as soon as possible. However, in some parts of the country this may take some time. If an observation is impractical, then accreditation can also be achieved following positive feedback from three separate schools.

 

Q. Where can I get further training or continuing professional development (CPD)?

A. Our training course has changed significantly over the past few years. If you would like some refresher training, then please put in an application for one of the upcoming training courses, but make it clear on the form when and where you previously trained. We encourage all school speakers to engage in CPD. Please see the school speakers handbook for further information.

 

Q. Do I need to renew my status as a school speaker?

A. Once you have been accredited as a school speaker then you do not need to renew your status. If any of the following occur then accreditation will be reviewed and possibly revoked:

  • A school speaker has not visited any schools for a period of two years, in the absence of extenuating circumstances
  • A volunteer is not engaging in CPD
  • An upheld complaint about the work or behaviour of a school speaker is considered sufficiently serious (see the complaints procedure in the school speakers handbook)
  • A volunteer indicates that they no longer wish to be a Humanists UK School Speaker

 

Visiting schools and key processes

 

Q. Where can I find the list of key processes for school speakers?

A. You can find a copy of the code of practice and a list of the key processes here.

 

Q. I’ve just visited a school. Do I need to tell anyone?

A. Yes. Tell the school speakers coordinator. If this request did not come via Humanists UK but was set up directly between you and the school then complete the short form here to create a record of the visit. The form should not take more than 2 minutes to complete. Please also email the School Speakers coordinator on schoolvolunteers@humanism.org.uk following a visit to inform them that you have visited a school so we can send the school a feedback form.

 

Q. A school has contacted me direct to ask if I can visit, or I’ve made a visit to a school for which the request came to me direct, rather than via Humanists UK. What should I do?

A. Should a school contact you directly to invite you in, please ask the school to fill out the request form here. Ask the school to write your name on the form so that our school speakers coordinator knows who is handling the request. If the school is unable to fill in the form or if they are keen for you to make a return visit and have previously completed the online form, then there is an alternative method for school speakers to create a record of the request by completing the short form here following a visit. It is essential that this form is completed if the school has not completed an online request form. The form should not take more than 2 minutes to complete. Please also email the School Speakers coordinator on schoolvolunteers@humanism.org.uk following a visit to inform them that you have visited a school so we can send the school a feedback form.

 

Q. Why do you need to know about all my visits?

A. Informing us about all the visits you make supports our work in a number of ways. It helps us to maintain a high-quality, professional service and improve our practice. The data and feedback gathered helps us to target publicity for the programme appropriately, and supports our campaigns and public affairs work. Good communication also helps us to support schools speakers effectively, and allows us to recognise and celebrate all the great work our school speakers are doing.

 

Q. I need to change or cancel a visit. What should I do?

A. Inform the school to see if they can accommodate the change in your availability. If they can’t, or if you need to cancel, then inform the school speakers coordinator on schoolvolunteers@humanism.org.uk  so that s/he can try to find a new speaker. Do not pass the request on to somebody else, but please feel free to pass on suggestions to the school speakers coordinator.

 

Q. The school wants to change or cancel the visit. What do I do?

A. If you can accommodate the change, then inform the school speakers coordinator on schoolvolunteers@humanism.org.uk about the change of date.  If you can’t, or if the visit has been cancelled, then inform the school speakers coordinator so that s/he can try to find a new speaker. Do not pass the request on to somebody else, but please feel free to pass on suggestions to the school speakers coordinator.

 

Q. What’s the best way to build a relationship with teachers and schools?

A. Take a look at the Developing and building relationships with schools section of the school speakers handbook (page 46)

 

Q. After I’ve made a visit how can I best review and reflect on the process?

A. You can find advice on page 48 of the school speakers handbook and an evaluation form to help you review the experience on page 55.

 

Q. I’ve some feedback from a school, what should I do?

A. Please forward it on to the Head of Education at education@humanism.org.uk. Positive feedback is always good to hear and critical feedback helps us to improve the service.

 

Q. A school has asked for a DBS check. What should I do?

A. Speakers should not need a DBS check as they are not in regulated activity. However, this means they must be accompanied by another adult in schools at all times. Legal guidance can be found in Keeping children safe in education: Statutory guidance for schools and colleges (July 2015), which states, ‘54. In a school or college, a supervised volunteer who regularly teaches or looks after children is not in regulated activity. The Department for Education (DfE) has published separate statutory guidance on supervision and regulated activity which schools and colleges should have regard to when considering which checks should be undertaken on volunteers.’ Non-regulated activity does not require a DBS check. However, it is at the school’s discretion whether or not they will choose to allow anyone onto their premises without a DBS check. The best thing to do is to explain that you understand from the legal guidance that, as a supervised volunteer on site, a DBS check would normally not be required, but that you completely recognise that is is their decision whether to invite you into the school. Schools have on occasions accepted speakers once they have become aware of the legal guidance. If, however, the school insists on a DBS check, contact the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk.

 

Q. Help! I don’t understand all the jargon and acronyms used in schools.

A. Take a look at the guide to jargon on page 15 of the school speakers handbook.

 

Marketing

 

Q. How do I get into schools?

A. Should we receive a request from a school in your area then we will contact you to ask if you are available to visit. If you would like to contact local schools yourself, then please contact the Head of Education at education@humanism.org.uk first to enquire whether there are any other local speakers in your area who may have already been marketing the service to schools.

 

Q. What is the best way to contact schools and market myself?

A. For advice on marketing yourself see the Marketing section of the school speakers handbook (page 44). In the handbook you can also find a template email to send to schools (appendix 5 on page 61).

 

Q. How can parents persuade schools they should request a visit from a school speaker?

A. Getting parents to contact schools and suggesting they request a visit from a school speaker is one of the most effective ways of getting invited into schools. In the school speakers handbook you can find a template email for parents to send to schools (appendix 6 on page 63).

 

Q. How can I help promote the school speakers programme?

A. You can contact your local Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) who may be able to help promote our service to schools. You can also look out local training events for RE teachers where you might be able to hand out some flyers. You can request some flyers by filling in the form here.

 

Q. Can I get some flyers to hand out to promote Understanding Humanism and the school speakers programme?

A. Yes. Fill in the form here and we’ll send you some.

 

Q. I’ve been asked why Humanism should be included in RE. What should I say?

A. There are many reasons to include Humanism in your RE curriculum. Click here for more information. And further support for the inclusion of Humanism can be found here.

 

Resources and support with presentations

 

Q. Where can I find a teaching resource on…?

A. All our resources can be found here. You can also search by age range by clicking on the age ranges on our home page. Of particular use may be the quick introductions to Humanism (including multiple choice questions to assess students’ understanding at the end of a visit); the planning guidelines, which feature key knowledge, questions, activity ideas, and links to resources relevant to each age group; and the humanist perspectives if you are invited in to talk about a specific topic.

You can also download two presentations, entitled ‘What is Humanism?’ here:

These may be of use if you are invited to deliver an assembly or a classroom talk to introduce students to key humanist beliefs and values. One is aimed at primary, the other at secondary.  They are quite similar only the language is age-appropriate. They are both long and contain much more than you are likely to need for a single session. However, they contain advice on which slides you might wish to focus on if asked to do a general introduction to Humanism, and the extra slides are there in case you have been asked to focus in more detail on something in particular, such as humanist beliefs about morality, happiness, or understanding the world. The slides also contain notes with further information.

The Teaching and learning section of the school speakers handbook also has ideas for activities (starting on page 22).

 

Q. I’ve been asked to talk about what humanists think about ‘……’. Where can I find some information?

A. You can find a humanist perspective on wide range of topics and themes here, including many studied in the RS GCSE exam specifications.

 

Q. I’ve been invited into a school to talk about a controversial topic (e.g. abortion)?

A. If you are unsure about the requested subject matter, then contact the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk for advice. We recommend that school speakers do not visit schools to talk about abortion as we advise schools against inviting in religious representatives to discuss this subject. We believe that abortion should be discussed in schools by professionals who have been trained to do so and are experts on the medical evidence.  If questions about abortion come up during a visit then it is OK to answer them, but you should avoid visiting a school to talk solely about abortion.

 

Q. How best can I plan a visit to a school? Do you have a planning template that can help me?

A. There’s advice on planning a visit in the Developing and building a relationship section of the school speakers handbook (page 46). You can also find a template planning sheets (page 53 & 54)

 

Q. Where can I get advice on answering tricky questions?

A. Take a look at the Tricky questions section of the school speakers handbook (page 39)

 

Q. Do you have any advice on classroom technique?

A. Take a look at the Teaching and learning section of the school speakers handbook (starting on page 22).

 

Q. Where can I find all the documentation relating to the school speakers programme?

A. You can find all the documentation on the Humanists UK Groups Hub.

 

Q. Do you have any top tips for speaking in schools?

A. Yes. Click here.

 

Q. Do you have any resources I can hand out to students?

A. Yes. We have a handout for secondary school students that explains what Humanism is. You can request some handouts by filling in the form here.

 

Q. Can I get a copy of What is Humanism? by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young to hand out to a teacher?

A. Yes. If you think you can get copies directly into teachers hands then you can request copies of the book here. If you do deliver a book to a school, please tell us about it here.

 

Key information and good practice

 

Q. Where can I find the school speakers handbook?

A. Just click here.

 

Q. What is the Code of Practice and where can I find it?

A. This Code of Practice is a statement of the ethical values and principles that underpin good volunteering in schools and provides guidance about what is expected of Humanists UK school speakers.  The code therefore sets out the basis for safe, effective, and compassionate work in schools. It provides reassurance to schools about the professionalism of the service by confirming that all our school speakers have been appropriately trained through the Humanists UK training for school speakers. As a volunteer you are not considered a member of Humanists UK staff as defined in most kinds of employment legislation.  However, you are representing the organisation, and that requires certain commitments from you. It is important that school speakers recognise that conversations about beliefs, values, and moral dilemmas can be sensitive and carry the potential for causing offence. It is therefore essential that school speakers follow the Code of Practice to avoid accusations of misconduct. Any complaint made against a school speaker will be assessed using the Code of Practice as a basis for judging the legitimacy of the complaint. You can find the Code of Practice here.

 

Q. How can I ensure I am conducting myself appropriately in schools?

A. Take a look at the advice in the Good practice section of the school speakers handbook.

 

Q. Do you have any tips for behaviour management

A. You’ll find some advice in the Behaviour management section of the school speakers handbook, but don’t forget that the teacher is ultimately responsible for behaviour management in the classroom.

 

The school speakers network: sharing and supporting each other

 

Q. Can I be put in touch with other local speakers?

A. In some areas there are regional networks of school speakers. Contact your regional coordinator to ask for further information. (If you do not know your regional coordinator, please email the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk.)

 

Q. Who is the regional coordinator in my area?

A. Please email the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk.

 

Q. Where can I get feedback on how I’m getting on?

A. You should always ask the teacher for constructive feedback on what went well and how things could be better next time. We will also forward on any feedback that we get sent directly to us. We also strongly recommend arranging to partner up with another school speaker to peer-observe each other. You can find information about peer review in appendix 7 of the school speakers handbook.

 

Q. I’d like to organise a peer-observation. How can I set one up?

A. If there is a regional school speakers network in your area, then contact the regional coordinator to see if they can help find somebody. However, please be aware that in some parts of the country it can be difficult to find another local school speaker. You can find information about peer review in appendix 7 of the school speakers handbook. (If you do not know your regional coordinator, please email the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk.)

 

Q. I’d like someone to mentor me. How can I arrange that?

A. If there is a regional school speakers network in your area, then contact the regional coordinator to see if they can help find somebody. If not, please contact the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk. However, please be aware that in some parts of the country it can be difficult to find another local school speaker. (If you do not know your regional coordinator, please email the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk.)

 

Q. How can I share the resources I have used with other speakers?

A. You can share resources on the Humanists UK Groups Hub or via the Humanists UK School Speakers Facebook Group.

 

Q. How do I access the school speakers section of the Humanists UK Groups Hub?

A. The Humanists UK Groups Hub can be found here. This will be the place to find any relevant materials and documentation related to the schools speakers programme and a space to upload any resources you have produced that you would like to share and find resources shared by other speakers. As a school speaker you should be able to access the school speakers area (click on ‘school speakers area’ on the menu on the left of the page, or click here. If you have not used the Groups Hub before, you may need to register by following the instructions here. If you have any problems accessing the school speakers area, please email schools.training@humanism.org.uk.

 

Q. How do I join the school speakers Facebook group?

A. The Humanists School Speakers Facebook Group can be found here. Please sign up by clicking on ‘Join Group’. The Head of Education will then add you to the group. The aim of the group is to establish a community of school speakers and enable you to communicate easily with each other. You can post information about recent school visits, ask questions, and share resources. Please be aware that the group is also not the place for writing disparaging content about students, teachers, schools, other school speakers, or the Humanists UK . If you have any concerns or complaints about anything to do with speaking in schools, please email the Head of Education directly at education@humanism.org.uk. You must also not disclose the names or upload photos of any students online.

 

Complaints

 

Q. Somebody has complained about my practice, or I am worried that I have done something that may lead to a complaint. What should I do?

A. Inform the Head of Education as soon as possible on education@humanism.org.uk. Complaints will be handled through the Humanists UK School Speakers Complaints Procedure. Details of the Complaints Procedure can be found in the school speakers handbook (page 50).

 

Q. What happens if I am accused of professional misconduct?

A. Professional misconduct is defined as conduct that contravenes the standards of professional behaviour required of Humanists UK school speakers as set out in the Code of Practice.  Misconduct should not be confused with capability issues which are a clear failure by a school speaker to meet an adequate standard of practice through lack of knowledge, ability, or consistent poor performance or failure to carry out the key processes. Cases which are referred to the Humanists UK will be handled through the Humanists UK School Speakers Complaints Procedure. Details of the Complaints Procedure can be found in the school speakers handbook (page 50).

 

Q. What happens if my accreditation is withdrawn?

A. In the event of accreditation either being relinquished or withdrawn, the school speaker is required to:

  1. Cease referring to their accreditation as a Humanists UK school speaker in any description or promotion of their work as a school speaker
  1. Cease using the Humanists UK logo or marketing materials

 

Q. How can I make a complaint?

A. Please inform the Head of Education on education@humanism.org.uk in writing about the complaint. If the complaint is about the Head of Education, then please email the Chief Executive on chiefexec-assistant@humanism.org.uk.

 

Other

 

Q. Can I claim expenses?

A. School speakers are allowed to ask schools to cover reasonable travel expenses. If the school is unable to do so, and you are not prepared to incur the expense yourself then you are entitled to politely decline the request from the school. You must inform the School Speakers Coordinator on school.volunteers@humanism.org.uk in such an event to enable him/her to look for an alternative speaker.

 

Q. Do I need insurance?

A. Humanists UK cannot provide insurance cover for school speakers. School speakers should not need insurance for anything not already covered by the school unless they are planning to carry out activities significantly different from those ordinarily carried out in the classroom.

 

Q. Is there anything I need to do regarding health and safety?

A. School Speakers are required to follow school’s health and safety policies and any reasonable instructions given by staff when on site.

 

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