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'Creationist' Free School In Newark Given Go Ahead

16/07/2012 12:31 | Updated 16 July 2012
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A free school said to be run by creationists has been given the go-ahead after revamping its image, according to reports.

The Exemplar Academy will open in Newark, Nottinghamshire, in 2013 and receive government funding, after an original bid was rejected last year.

Since then the school's original sponsors - the Everyday Champions Church - pulled out and instead individuals from the church stepped forward to back the academy.

The green light for the school has prompted strong reaction from secular and scientific bodies, which fear creationism will be taught to children.

Richy Thompson, faith schools campaigner for the British Humanist Association (BHA), said:

"This school represents another example of the growing instance of schools that have a ‘faith ethos’ but are not legally designated as being religious schools.

"Such schools are intended to be more palatable to the wider public, but still allow the religious organisation to control the governing body, put its slant on some aspects of the curriculum and perhaps also put a religious requirement on some teaching positions.

"Even if the proposal is removing all formal links with the Church, it is still far from clear why Michael Gove should agree to open a school run by people with such extreme religious views, when there are so many other groups he can choose to support."

But a spokeswoman for the DfE insisted the school would not be allowed to teach creationism as fact.

"The point is they are not allowed to teach creationism as just one theory," she told the Huffington Post. "We just do not approve free school that teach it is as fact. The school will only teach it as part of the curriculum."

But this has not alleviated fears of the British Centre for Science Education, whose members have bene "extremely concerned" about the school for some time.

"The concern we have is that the [school] backers said they were going to undermine science in their religious education classes before pupils go into their science lessons.

"The school will find a way around the government's regulations as they are very difficult to implement."

When asked by HuffPost how the government intended to enforce its ban on teaching creationism in science lessons, the spokeswoman repeated: "The school knows it is not allowed to teach creationism as fact."

Although many schools in the UK adopt the controversial Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, which teaches children the apartheid was beneficial to South Africa and claims a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur, the DfE has said the Exemplar school will not be following the system.

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The Everyday Champions Church has been contacted for comment but has yet to reply.

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