"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The DfE replies to my concerns.

Back in February I wrote to the Department for Education regarding this story about the Everyday Champions Church, based in Newark, Nottinghamshire, who have made an application to open a free school in which evolution will be taught “as a theory”.
Anyway, I got a reply which reads as follows.
Academies and Free Schools will benefit from having freedom over the curriculum they deliver. However, we have been clear that creationism should not form part of any science curriculum or be taught as a scientific alternative to accepted scientific theories. The Department carries out a detailed assessment of the curriculum plans of all proposed Free Schools and we would not approve any proposals where we had concerns or proof that these provided for the teaching of creationism as science or any other areas of the curriculum outside denominational religious education (RE) and collective worship. We expect to see evolution and its foundation topics fully included in any such science curriculum. Once again, thank you for writing with your concerns.
Which on the face of it seems fine, but misses the point. Schools like the one Everyday Champions Church want to found, may well submit science curricula that pass muster. They may even be able to resist the temptation to sneak a little “Intelligent Design” in there when nobody is looking. But the fact remains that such a school will not be restrained from undermining the science in the rest of the curriculum. It would be exactly like the situation in some U.S schools where science teachers tell their pupils to learn evolution “as a theory” to pass the exams while making it clear they don’t believe it.
As my original post points out a teacher who does not understand the factual basis on which the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is founded, has no business teaching science. It is not good enough for the government to hope they can insulate science teaching from the rest of the curriculum and ethos of a school. It should actively prevent religious organisations from running free schools, or better still, scrap the whole misconceived notion altogether.

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