The Guardian - UK March 21, 2011
Free schools will not teach creationism, says Department for Education
Government spokesman says the education secretary is 'crystal clear' that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact
by Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
The Department for Education has said Michael Gove is "crystal clear that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact" after a warning that the government's new free schools could be exploited by fundamentalist churches looking to promote a literal interpretation of the Bible.
The remarks follow a letter to the education secretary from the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) suggesting that creationists planned to use government legislation on free schools to mount a "concerted attack" on science education.
Free schools can be set up by charities, universities, businesses, educational groups, teachers and groups of parents. They will have more freedom over the contents of their curriculum, leading to fears that science teaching in the schools may not be as rigorous. Teachers working at free schools will also not need to have formal teaching qualifications.
The BCSE, which describes itself as the leading anti-creationist organisation in Europe, wrote to Gove to express its "extreme concern" at applications from groups such as the Everyday Champions Church and the Christian Schools Trust to run free schools.
The trust has already had one proposal accepted. A primary school in Hampstead "with a distinctive Christian ethos that permeates every aspect of school life" will open in September. The BCSE says the trust has four applications outstanding.
The Everyday Champions Church, in Newark, Nottinghamshire, submitted its proposal for a 652-place school in January, shortly before the DfE held its first free school conference where Gove said he would consider applications from creationist groups on a case-by-case basis.
On its website the church says it has "660 children 'definitely' signed up to the school and 185 considering". It spent January and February carrying out public presentations and found parental response "overwhelmingly positive".
"Creationism will be embodied as a belief at Everyday Champions Academy, but will not be taught in the sciences," said its leader Gareth Morgan. "Similarly, evolution will be taught as a theory. We believe children should have a broad knowledge of all theories in order that they can make informed choice."
The DfE spokesman said groups setting up new free schools in the UK will be vetted to ensure that they have "strong education aims" and "high curriculum standards". He said: "The education secretary is crystal clear that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact. Ministers have said they will not accept any proposal where there are concerns about the people behind the project."
In the letter from the BCSE, Professor Paul Braterman wrote that the embodiment of creationism "as a belief" could only mean that science was "subordinate to religious considerations, and that the central concepts of the natural sciences, as developed over the past 350 years, must be rejected as doctrinally unsound."
In an accompanying report, the BCSE recommended the DfE "carefully vet" free school applications and "be very wary" of approving applications from creationist groups.
Last July, Gove acknowledged there were concerns about "inappropriate faith groups using this legislation to push their own agenda." The education secretary, who was addressing MPs on the cross-party Commons education committee, said his department was working on the regulations to ensure there were no "extremist groups taking over schools".
Braterman claimed that teaching in schools run by such groups in Sweden forced a revision of the original "friskolor" legislation there, making free schools subject to the same regulations that ensure teaching is objective as traditional schools.
Secular News Daily - March 22, 2011
Further pressure on government to commit to teaching of evolution in academy schools
by British Humanist Association
Further pressure has been put on the government to explain how it will prevent religious, state-maintained 'free schools' from teaching creationism outside of the religious education curriculum, and if it will require such schools to teach evolution in science. BHA distinguished supporter and vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, Dr Julian Huppert MP, asked a formal parliamentary question of the Secretary of State for Education to comment on his policy on these points. Responding, Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP stated:
'Academies and free schools will benefit from having freedom over the curriculum they deliver. However, we have been clear that creationism should not form part of any science curriculum or be taught as a scientific alternative to accepted scientific theories. We expect to see evolution and its foundation topics fully included in any science curriculum. Under the Government's planned reforms to school inspection, there will be stronger focus on teaching. Teachers will be expected to demonstrate that their subject knowledge is secure. If creationism is being taught as a scientific fact in science or any other areas of the curriculum outside denominational RE and collective worship, this would be noted in the Ofsted report.'
Commenting on the government’s response, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘Through its Academies and Free Schools, the government has embarked on a programme which will entrench religious privilege in our education system, providing ever more scope for inequality and the dissemination of religious doctrine in a state-funded service. It is easy to see the appeal of Academies to certain religious groups, not only because they have freedom to discriminate in employment and admissions but because of the considerable latitude they have over the syllabus taught, which would in practice permit schools to promote religious dogma in place of objective teaching on issues such as creationism.
‘Despite the government’s statement in favour of evolution, there is no requirement even for community schools which follow the National Curriculum to teach evolution in science at primary level. It is difficult to see how the government will ensure that the potentially thousands of existing and new schools, lifted out of the National Curriculum altogether through its Academies programme, will teach what is probably the most important idea underlying biological science. This, combined with the threat of groups running schools who willingly purport anti-scientific theories which are not supported by evidence as fact, creates a new threat to the teaching of evolution and school science more generally.’
This article was found at:
Faith schools that indoctrinate children commit child abuse
Secularists campaign to change UK law that makes religious assemblies in schools compulsory, government and church resist
Strong Secularism: "Religious education can be a form of mental abuse."
Texas school board members injected their personal religious beliefs into social studies curriculum
Reactionary Christian fundamentalists take over Texas school board, rewrite history books to indoctrinate America's children
Teen tells hearing Louisiana Science Education Act is embarrassing, students deserve to be taught proper science
Louisiana school board wants believers to teach creationism in science classes, thinks it will solve discipline problem
Teaching evolution in science classrooms under attack in the US and UK by anti-science creationists
Creationists weaken U.S. education system, only a quarter of high school students adequately taught evolutionary biology
Ohio school district payed nearly a million dollars to fire science teacher who taught creationism
Nebraska education administrators get mixed messages from lawyers on legality of promoting religion in schools
Federal Court of Appeal asked to stop California college proselytizing and imposing religion on students
Advocacy group battles illegal Christian fundamentalist proselytizing in U.S. public schools
Fundamentalist Christian 'punk' band uses deception to evangelize and indoctrinate in U.S. schools
Radical Christian extremists aim to undermine public education by targeting high school kids for indoctrination into fundamentalist worldview
Canadian fundamentalist Christian universities promote religious extremism over knowledge
Quebec bans teaching a belief, a dogma or the practice of a specific religion in government subsidized daycares
Battle over ethics course in Quebec schools goes to court - Catholic high school wants exemption
Atheist Ireland says children's right to be exempt from religious class a theoretical illusion
Irish children subjected to religious dogma in order to get an education in school system dominated by Catholic church
Parental rights vs children's rights: debating the role of religious institutions in Irish education system
German teen expelled from government funded Catholic school after exercising her human right to religious freedom
Haifa District Court denies parents' request to send children to secular school instead of orthodox school