Lo! Creationism cannot be taught as scientific fact in any state-funded school in the UK. That goes for all free schools as well as any existing and future academies.
“It is already the case that all state schools, including academies, are prohibited from teaching creationism as scientific fact. That has not changed,” says a Department of Education spokesperson. So what’s new exactly?
Academies are state-maintained but independently-run schools with some outside sponsorship. The Academies Act 2010 made it possible for all schools — such as church schools — to become an academy. This month, the government added new clauses to the funding agreements between the Secretary of State and any church school converting to an academy.
In what’s being hailed as a secular triumph, these clauses not only require that students at academies be taught evolution, but they also prevent teaching creationism as scientific fact.
The clauses define creationism 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.”
And furthermore, it goes on to say creationism is rejected by most mainstream churches, religious traditions, and the scientific community — that it doesn’t agree with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence.
Here are the exact words from the “Church of England and Catholic single academy model supplemental agreement,” which you can download as a Word document.
… 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.
And just to clarify, free schools are funded by the government, but they’re set up by parents and independent groups; they’re like charter schools in the U.S.
But all of that isn’t to say creationism can’t be taught in schools. The clauses don’t prevent the discussion of beliefs about the origins of our planet and living things, just as long as it’s not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory.
All the documents to help church schools convert to academies can be found here.