By Ian Dunt
Creationism cannot be taught as a valid scientific theory in any free school or academy, the government has said.
The move, which came in a little noticed document last week, marks a significant victory for secular campaigners, who have long fought to ensure the freedom granted to free schools and academies does not allow religious ideas to be taught in science classes.
New clauses for church academies published on June 9th clarify the meaning of creationism and state that it is a minority view within the Church of England and Catholic church.
It then adds: “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.”
Because every free school and academy is required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in its funding agreement, the explicit statement that creationism is incompatible with it bars the teaching of it as a scientific theory.
The move is the culmination of a long campaign by secularists, who first succeeded in getting creationism banned from all future free schools, then future stand-alone academies and then finally all future multi-academy trusts.
It is the first time the rule has applied to current free schools and academies, however.
Questions were asked about why it took the government so long to impose the bar on creationism, given concerns about it being taught were raised as soon as the academies programme was introduced.
“Coupled with the fact that maintained schools must follow the national curriculum, which from September will include a module on evolution at the primary level, we believe that this means that the objectives of the campaign are largely met,” British Humanist Association head of public affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented.