Friday, 30 November 2012

Government rules that free schools must teach evolution

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In a welcome development for science education campaigners, the government has announced that free schools will now be required to teach evolution.

Since the implementation of the government's flagship free school policy following the general election in 2010, the approval of a number of schools run by evangelical Christian organisations has prompted concerns that pupils in state-funded schools would be taught creationism in science lessons. Campaigners, including the British Humanist Association, have long argued for firm rules requiring the proper teaching of evolution, and this will now be the case following a change to the "model funding agreement" for free schools, effective from 2013.

The new clause in the model funding agreement states:
"The Academy Trust shall make provision for the teaching of evolution as a comprehensive, coherent and extensively evidenced theory."
The development has been welcomed by the BHA's Chief Executive Andrew Copson, although he notes that there are still concerns about the fact that Christians with a track record of promoting creationism, such as those behind Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland, have received approval from the government:
"A requirement to teach evolution in free schools is an excellent additional safeguard against state-funded creationist schools and must be welcomed.

"However, we continue to be concerned about the three free schools recently approved which are supportive of teaching creationism as science and which we must worry will continue to find ways to circumvent a ban in practice."
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