Government bans creationism from free school science lessons

(PA)

The government has changed the rules to stop creationism being taught in science lessons in free schools and academies.

Politics.co.uk reports that the changes were included in updated documents for church schools looking to convert to academies.

Creationism is defined in the document as "any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution".

Churches are told that agreeing to keep creationism out of the classroom is a condition for receiving government funding.

Clauses in the document "explicitly require that pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching 'creationism' as scientific fact".

They also state that creationism is rejected by the scientific community and most mainstream churches and religious traditions.

Free schools and academies are also told they are allowed to discuss beliefs about the origins of the earth and living things, including creationist ideas, in RE lessons "as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory".

The changes apply to existing free schools and academies, as well as those opening in the future, and make clear that they are expected to offer a broad curriculum.

"The parties further recognise that the requirement on every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school," the guidelines state.

A ban on teaching creationism in schools has been a key campaign of the British Humanist Association. It welcomed the changes but is now pushing for creationism to be stamped out in more areas, including nurseries and private schools where it is taught.

"Continued vigilance is needed in the state-funded sector," said BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal.

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