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Gove Must Not Allow Creationists to Gain a Foothold in Our Education System

Posted: 18/07/2012 14:12

Earlier this month it became clear that creationists had wormed their way into an exhibit at the National Trust visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway.

If this weren't bad enough, there is now a suspicion that a number of new free schools run by untested religious groups are going to be tempted to stealthily introduce creationism into their curriculums once they are established.

This in theory is not permitted by the Department of Education but it seems all that is required is one little white lie in the vetting process and then a free school really is free as far as the religious proselytisers are concerned. Rules intended to restrain them appear wholly inadequate.

Responding to the controversy over news that three Creationist groups have been given Education secretary Michael Gove's approval to open free schools, the Department for Education today tweeted what they describe as "Clear guidelines" about what schools can and cannot teach.

The guidelines state:

"We would expect to see evolution and its foundation topics fully included in any science curriculum.

"We do not expect creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas to be taught as valid scientific theories in any state funded school."

No mention then of RE lessons, where these schools can presumably teach children whatever they like about creationism, contradicting whatever they may have been taught in science lessons.

It's clear that some of the groups given the go-ahead to open free schools have a creationist agenda. When the Everyday Champions Church in Newark had its plans to open a secondary school turned down last year over concerns about creationism, they pledged to continue making every effort possible to see a new school set up. Well, they're back -- and they're approved -- this time as the 'Exemplar Newark Business Academy' now promising to only teach creationism in RE, not science. We'll see, as time goes on, how serious this promise might be.

It is highly unlikely that the Education Secretary would ever close a free school -- or any other state school -- on the grounds of it abusing the religious privileges it has been given. His personal investment in these schools is too deep to ever countenance admitting that the whole system could be flawed.

But there's something very wrong with an education system that appears to have become a feeding frenzy for groups hell bent on targeting children with religious propaganda.

The National Trust has decided, under public pressure, to 'review' its creationist friendly exhibit at the Giants' Causeway visitor centre.

It is time Mr Gove was similarly pressured to review the apparently creationist-vulnerable policies in our schools.

We've seen how Christian fundamentalists have gained ground in promoting creationist nonsense in the United States; we must be vigilant and not allow those kinds of ideas to gain a foothold in this country. It will be up to everyone who feels that schools are being misused by religious groups to make their concerns known.

The "faith school" madness must be challenged.

 

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