Teaching evolution key to free school funding deal


Failing to teach evolution by natural selection in science lessons could lead to new free schools losing their funding under government changes.

The new rules state that from 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a “comprehensive and coherent scientific theory”.

The move follows scientists’ concerns that free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution.

Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said he was “delighted”.

Sir Paul told BBC News the previous rules on free schools and the teaching of evolution versus creationism had been “not tight enough”.

He said that although the previous rules had confined creationism to religious education lessons, “the Royal Society identified a potential issue that schools could have avoided teaching evolution by natural selection in science lessons or dealt with it in a such a perfunctory way, that the main experience for students was the creationist myth”.

So far 79 free schools have opened in England with 118 more due to open in 2013 and beyond. They are funded directly by central government but unlike other state-funded schools are run by groups of parents, teachers, charities and religious groups and do not have to abide by the national curriculum.

The new rules mean if a free school is found to be acting in breach of its funding agreement – for example, teaching creationism as a scientific fact or not teaching evolution – the Department for Education will take “swift action which could result in the termination of that funding agreement”.

Written By: Judith Burns
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk


  1.  ” Teaching evolution key to free school funding deal “

    The stick.

    When will these people learn that an education devoid of one of the guiding principles of biology, the fact of evolution, and the theory that explains much about this fact, enrich the biological learning experience 100 fold. The carrot.

  2. We could really use this in the US for our public schools as well as the private schools.

  3. This article largely misses the most important point – a sectarian school is a sectarian school, and mad dogs will act like mad dogs.

    These so-called “free” schools should not receive public funding at all.

    Attempting to enforce some kind of standard for the teaching of evolution or anything else is a pipe dream – if a school is founded by a particular sect with a particular agenda it will inevitably find a way around it and education will suffer.

    The way to ensure standards in science and other subjects is by establishing and resourcing quality public education, ensuring school have no agenda other than education, and that they are run by professional educators qualified in their fields.

    The very concept of a school run by a non-public entity in itself means that it is by its nature sectarian, with goals other than that of educational quality. If they did not have such goals they would have no rationale for existing.

    There is no evidence at all that such schools provided improved educational outcomes for students. On the contrary, studies in both the UK and the US have demonstrated that if anything educational outcomes are worse once socioeconomic background has been accounted for.

    Such schools segregate young people on the basis of socioeconomic background, religion, ethnicity and other factors, and decrease educational equity and fairness, making even more difficult for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to maximise their educational opportunities.

    By lowering the quality of education to their own students as well as increasing educational inequity overall such schools lower the quality of education of the nation as a whole.

    It would not be too much of an exaggeration to describe so-called “free”, “charter” and private schools in general as educational Chernobys, and it is a disgrace that gutless politicians scared of powerful non-government school and sectarian lobbies in a number of countries are increasingly supporting them.

    It will probably happen in my lifetime, but it would be wonderful to think that some time in the future politicians will emerge with the wisdom and courage to close the bastards down.

  4. Any school which has any form of religious bias should not be considered for free school funding at all.

  5. I wonder if parents who send their children to most of these new Free Schools (or, to give them their proper title, Bullshit Indoctrination Centres) realise that their selfishness in wanting to ‘educate’ their children with crap rather than the best knowledge available is going to render their kids totally unemployable.

    Despite it being against the rules to teach Creationism as scientifically valid and despite assurances by the Free Schools that they won’t teach Creationism as scientifically valid, what’s the first thing the new Free Schools do? Teach Creationism as scientifically valid.

    Anyone who’s able (or has been mentally beaten enough) to suspend critical thinking to such an extent they can believe a magic sky wizard made the world in six days, 6000 years ago is not someone I would employ for anything but the most menial task. You simply cannot trust their decision making process. They would be a liability in almost any company.

    Additionally, how stupid is the idea of just pulling funding for a school that teaches creationism? You then end up with a load of pupils, half brainwashed with crap, stuck at a school that will still teach crap but now has no money. The kids are screwed either way – they either get an education that severely restricts their opportunities in the workplace or the funding gets pulled halfway through and they end up barely educated at all.

    These children are going to end up casualties of their parents’ selfish desire to enforce their ‘right’ to stamp their religious views on their offspring at every possible opportunity.

  6. thebaldgit
    Any school which has any form of religious bias should not be considered for free school funding at all.


    As they were set up to exempt them from the usual rules by this “loophole legislation”, to accommodate favoured funding, political and religious bias,  it should have been obvious that the fundies would be first in the queue to try it on.

    Gove is standing “foot-in-mouth” trying to put a sticking plaster on one of the problems he has created.

    If they have to teach evolutionary biology in science, they will probably teach “just a theory”, elsewhere in the curriculum. 

    It looks like Cameron is going to propose “loophole legislation” for his media pals, in the proposed regulation of press standards in the coming post phone-hacking debate, on information in the press & media!

    It’s the traditional elitist Tory line: “We’re in favour of standards, but not if they are enforcible on everyone including our pals”!

  7. I wote to my MP David Gauke about this and received a letter from the office of Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove stating unequivocally that funding would be withdrawn from any school which did not comply with this ruling on the teaching of evolution.

    At the time I was sceptical but now I’m satisfied that it is indeed true.

  8. The move follows scientists’ concerns that free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution.

    What’s the point of allowing creationists to run schools if they’re not allowed to teach creationism?!

    If creationist schools are not teaching creationism, what are they for?


    Jumped Up Chimpanzee
    What’s the point of allowing creationists to run schools if they’re not allowed to teach creationism?!

    If creationist schools are not teaching creationism, what are they for?


    Some of their creationist sponsors may well be asking that very question!

    Meanwhile, some opposition politicians are asking other questions!
    ‘Collapsed free school projects ‘wasted at least £2.3m’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/educ
    Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg says at least £2.3m was spent
    on three projects alone, two of which were abandoned and one which is
    half empty.

  10. Well not all free schools are run by creationists its just the original legislation was an open door to creationists and they saw a chance for free money AND the chance to indoctrinate the next generation. That was obviously going to happen two years ago when the tories got in. In Sweden they’d already tried free schools and found lots were run by religious extremists and creationism crept in via the back door. They belatedly had to put legislation in place.  
    Gove wanted free schools to be totally free, because he slowly wants to remove education from state control for purely ideological right wing reasons. He’s encouraged some real schools to become academies and apparently millions of pounds have been wasted in that as well as the millions thrown away on free schools nobody wants to attend at all. Academies aren’t well audited and are also wasting money.
    He wants to remove state control that has led to steady improvements though things are far from perfect. State control ensured evolution was taught, creationism was forbidden, homophobic bullying/language was forbidden, certain standards had to be reached, certain subjects had to be taught to give a rounded education, anti bullyilng policies had to be in place and so on and so forth. None of which have to be in place in free schools – a broad and balanced curriculum is what they have to provide – which could mean anything at all.
    The thing that nobody seems to care about is that what most people say they want in every single survey is good local, well funded schools. Thats why faith schools haven’t gone yet, if they were good people liked them. Not gimmicky free schools or academies, just improvements to what they already had. State schools teaching normal subjects without gimmicks.

    Gove starves real state schools whilst he throws money at free schools and academies. Real state schools lose money, can’t afford teachers. LEAs lose money and can’t afford to keep good state schools open. Soon all parents and kids will have left are gimmicky free schools.

    Not what they wanted at all but nobody listened to them. My school is outstanding outstanding (ie an even more outstanding Ofsted outstanding report) yet has lost loads of money since 2010 by not becoming an academy. It struggles now to put semi vocational courses in place for the less academic kids who Gove hates and the range of A levels offered has dropped.
    Why has the BHA not been more pragmatic in its approach and joined forces with groups like the localschoolsnetworks and started fighting free schools as a policy instead of its generic anti all faith schools campaign?  They would get more support than they do for fighting what most parents see as perfectly normal, schools, for purely ideological reasons.

    Most people aren’t driven by that strong an ideology, they don’t care about moderate ‘nice’ religious people that hold a few fetes and sell jam for the church roof. Its just extremism, intolerance, pushiness and bigotry and demanding to be above the law they can’t stand. Most of the faith schools fall into the former category, I can’t see anything that stops the new free schools falling into the latter.

    A significant proportion of the new free schools are religiously based but outside state control. A significant number of those aren’t really wanted OR are wanted because people think they will be like existing schools when they won’t. That will only increase as well, there is no real protocol for new religious groups to conmclusively prove they’re not insane before bidding.

    Then there is nothing about the cost of checking whether a school is risky or policing this policy with reduced Ofsted powers.

    Remember there aren’t just insane creationist groups bidding for free school money, there are Islamic ones, uncontrolled Catholic ones, Steiner ones that have some weird beliefs about science as well, rmeditating hippy ones and even Rupert Murdoch has his eye on opening one.

    Plus of course the ones that got lots of money but no pupils turned up to spend it on, so didn’t open. Money that could have gone on the NHS or social services or meals on wheels instead! Or onto existing schools with real not virtual pupils.

    Gove is not a safe person to be in charge of education -he’s driven by ideology and won’t listen. He claims to care about poorer pupils but takes resources from those helping them. I’m not sure that what he is doing is reversible either. It will cost a fortune to correct. He’s openly pro Murdoch as well which speaks volumes.

    It would be far better to fight his insane dismantling of state education – because  that will genuinely hand the reins of control to priests, vicars, imams, pastors, elders, weirdos whose science is based on alien abuctions etc. The man is stupid.

     I did post a link to this news Friday morning but it was in the wrong place.

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