Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In All UK Public Schools

Jun 23, 2014

By George Dvorsky

 

In what’s being heralded as a secular triumph, the UK government has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all existing and future academies and free schools.

The new clauses, which arrived with very little fanfare last week, state that the…

…requirement for 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.

So, if an academy or free school teaches creationism as scientifically valid, it’s breaking the funding agreement to provide a “broad and balanced curriculum.”

In the UK, state-funded academies are basically equivalent to charter schools in the United States, and are primarily comprised of high schools. Free schools, which were introduced in 2010, are non-profit making, independent, state-funded schools which are not controlled by a local authority, but are subject to the School Admissions Code. Free schools make it possible for parents, teachers, charities, and business to set up their own schools.

In addition to the new clauses, the UK government clarified the meaning of creationism, reminding everyone that it’s a minority view even within the Church of England and the Catholic Church.

Back in 2012, the UK government banned all future free schools from teaching creationism as science, requiring them to teach natural selection. At the time, however, it didn’t extend those requirement to academies, nor did the changes apply to existing free schools. The new verbiage changes this, precluding all public-funded schools — present or future — from teaching creationism as evidence-based theory.

The new church academies clauses require that “pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching ‘creationism’ as scientific fact.” And by “creationism” they mean:

[A]ny 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. The parties acknowledge that creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican] [Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community. It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory.

And in regards to protecting religious beliefs, the clauses acknowledge that the funding agreement does…

35 comments on “Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In All UK Public Schools

  • 1
    Miserablegit says:

    This is undoubtedly good news, but there will be plenty of free schools who will try to manipulate the rules to keep teaching the voodoo and any law is only as good as it’s enforcement.



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  • Why is it verbiage? Does Dvorsky really mean speech or writing that contains too many words or that uses words that are more difficult than necessary? Or is this just further evidence of a growing tendency towards careless writing?



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  • Miserablegit Jun 23, 2014 at 1:26 am

    This is undoubtedly good news, but there will be plenty of free schools who will try to manipulate the rules to keep teaching the voodoo and any law is only as good as it’s enforcement.

    Very much so!

    I am reminded of the Emanuel College Faith School, which taught evolution / natural selection, in the syllabus of biology lessons, but had an openly creationist as head of science, using his position as scientific credibility to promote “the controversy” of creationism and ID.

    The schools have denied promoting creationism and have taken legal action against journalists exposing them. There are however an assortment of creationists appointed to senior senior posts on the basis of their “Christian ethos”!



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  • The ban on teaching creationism does not extend to all of the UK, just the extent to which the Westminster government’s remit over education extends. Prof Paul Braterman has put together a petition to go to the Scottish government (part of the UK) to have this good sense extended further in the UK. You can access more information at http://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/petition-to-scottish-parliament-no-state-funded-creationist-teaching-draft-text-comments-requested/



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  • Banned as a science but not as hocus pocus. There is no compulsion on the other hand to teach evolution. I have not looked at NDAQ recently but suspect there could still be a few biology/science qualifications which do not mention evolution so those who don’t like it can opt out and still teach creationism as part of a religious class.



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  • They’ll always find a way out. is it legal in UK for parents to withdraw their children from classes dealing with evolution? It used to happen in Australia, and I have heard of it happening in UK. A newly arrived Saudi man turned up one day to enrol his children my sister’s Anglican council school, with a list of demands including no singing, assemblies, drama, evolution, sex education etc, and very foolishly the Principal accommodated him; which meant that my sister, the school secretary, copped a whole load of unpaid child supervision. Can/do parents frequently get away with this sort of behaviour?



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  • is it legal in UK for parents to withdraw their children from classes dealing with evolution?

    Not in schools where the National curriculum is statutory. private schools can do much as they like – with the new Tory Academies and “Free Schools” initially encourage to copy them.

    Parents can however opt their children out of the Xtian based “religious education” in Local Education Authority schools. – (Jehova’s Witnesses usually do.)

    It used to happen in Australia, and I have heard of it happening in UK. A newly arrived Saudi man turned up one day to enrol his children my sister’s Anglican council school, with a list of demands including no singing, assemblies, drama, evolution, sex education etc, and very foolishly the Principal accommodated him;

    If this is a publicly funded school, the Local Education Authority and OFSTED should be informed of this breach of rules.



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  • Our galaxy is heliocentric; fact. Our planet is four point seven billion years old; fact. Uranium – 238 decays to Lead – 206 and has a half life of 4,500,000,000 years; fact. Dendrochronology is accurate to the nearest year; fact. Etc, etc, etc, …..!

    Why then, is evolution by means of natural selection still called a theory?

    OK, in the sciences, theories unite and explain facts about matter, but I think it’s true to say that the majority of people think that they are notions, or guesses, or hunches, or whims and the like, so terming Darwinism a theory is simply not good enough!

    Evolution is true, it’s an incontrovertible fact, and calling it a theory is inviting disingenuous and mischievous ignoramuses to make hay in favour of their personal, silly, antediluvian fantasies, and palm them off on children, depriving them of a proper education.

    The fragmentation of the UK’s education system has led to hole in the wall teaching of stupid ideas and fads by cranks!

    But the most stupid idea of all is the fragmentation itself.

    You can have your own religion, change from one to another, make another one up to go with all the other made up tripe, but no one can have their own science; that belongs equally to all, and its misappropriation must at all costs be prevented.



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  • The permissiveness of the education authorities has led to this state of things: the possibility that a teacher of Creationism might become the Head of the Science department. Actually the subject of Creationism does not exist from the academic point of view, it is a belief that is found in all religions, especially in the Abrahamic religions; therefore the actual subject is Religion, not Creationism, and I don’t think somebody would appoint a Religion teacher as head of the department of Science. However, sometimes the degree of stupidity can reach amazing heights.



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  • @OP – So, if an academy or free school teaches creationism as scientifically valid, it’s breaking the funding agreement to provide a “broad and balanced curriculum.”

    Of course viewed through creationist blinker-specs, “balanced”, could be “interpreted” as the political correctness of “debating a controversy of two sides of an argument”, so the directions on scientific methodology, need to be very specific and unambiguous.

    Science does not do political “balance”. It does, evidence, accuracy and refutation of errors.

    Politicians on the other hand:-

    Badgers: Ministers ‘wilfully’ ignoring science advice

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27926951
    A senior government adviser has described coalition plans to change the way the pilot badger culls are assessed as “an abuse” of the scientific method.

    Prof Timothy Coulson is concerned the government is considering a less reliable way of assessing humaneness in the cull and numbers of badgers killed.

    He is also concerned that it will scrap independent oversight.

    It would also make it impossible to assess whether recommendations to improve the cull have worked.

    Writing in Animal Ecology in Focus, Prof Coulson says that ministers must be “wilfully” ignoring the concerns of its own scientists.

    “I am tempted to speculate that the government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane,” he says in his article. “They just want to cull badgers, regardless of whether the population or humaneness consequences can be assessed.”

    The circular preconceptions of faith-thinking, are much more compatible with political ideologies than with science! – Hence the persistent political meddling with education by politicians seeking votes from making illusory “improvements”!



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  • 13
    Pinball1970 says:

    in reply to EEjit
    “There is no compulsion on the other hand to teach evolution.”

    That is a good point, simply leave it out of science class but teach creationism as fact in RE to get round it?

    Banning it from these schools is only a start and a top down approach could be the way forward.
    Any university or college worth its salt should take a stance if they are interested in the progress of science and the education of future generations.
    Instead of students being allowed to walk out of classes on evolution (as they have done in UK reported on this forum I think) how about insisting they demonstrate knowledge and application of the principles of evolution from the first to final year?
    Maths students cant just walk out of trigonometry or statistics because they don’t like it.
    Evolution has been described as the cornerstone and foundation of biology I think making this compulsory is quite reasonable.
    If your child has attended a faith school that teaches ID or some other creationist nonsense relating to the universe, don’t bother applying to this university to study science.



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  • Alan4discusion: June 23 @ 12.06 pm.

    I heard the interview with Professor Coulson which you mention, as well as the one that followed it given by a Government rep’ whose name I can’t recall, in which Coulson’s work was rubbished as just looking at things at night through binoculars.

    I’m afraid that smearing people has become par for the course with the vote junkies.

    They did it with Professor David Nutt vis drugs, and then sacked him because he came up with scientific findings which didn’t tally with New Labour policy, and prior to that, in spades, with the nuclear arms inspector who committed suicide, by immediately after his death calling him a Walter Mitty type character; I can’t remember the arms inspector’s name I’m afraid, perhaps you can.

    It seems that we can’t trust the present crop of elected representatives to do anything properly.



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  • 15
    Pinball1970 says:

    in reply to Sfford Gordon “Why then, is evolution by means of natural selection still called a theory?”

    Lowering the bar will not help our cause, it is a scientific theory.
    Trying to explain the difference between evidence, facts, a hypothesis and a tried and tested, water tight theory like evolution to the people we are talking about would not make any difference because they do not understand or care about the detail.
    They are only interested in the fact it contradicts the OT.



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  • If I could put a somewhat jaundiced but IMO, true perspective on “creationism”? Britain is officially a Christian nation, i.e. CoE version. Over the years the Church of England has had to adapt to the findings of modern science, especially since the industrial revolution, Darwin and breakthroughs in science too numerous to mention. The CoE had to become “Old Earth Creationists”, OECs, because they had to accept the findings of science or face complete ridicule and increasing irrelevance to everyday life. (Which is what has happened anyway !)

    Now Britain as a developed country wants and needs a skilled and knowledgeable workforce, which requires some knowledge of science. On the other hand, the “Christian heritage” of Britain gives our rulers some leverage over thought control. It was no accident that David Cameron, PM, declared a little while ago that Britain was a “Christian nation”. On the one hand the government wants a scientifically literate workforce, but on the other, it wants the dead hand of the past, religion, to still have a hold over workers’ minds. I am reminded of the governments attitude towards tobacco. They would just love everyone to buy tobacco because of the tax revenue, but they would just hate anyone to smoke or chew the stuff because of the costs of the resulting health care !

    Creationists are just that, creationists. Whether young Earth or old Earth, they believe in the supernatural. Not a belief I share.



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  • the nuclear arms inspector who committed suicide, by immediately after his death calling him a Walter Mitty type character; I can’t remember the arms inspector’s name I’m afraid, perhaps you can.

    Answer – David Kelly.



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  • 18
    arielpoliandri says:

    It is still called a theory because science is a body of theories not dogmas. Scientists support the theory of evolution because all the evidence gathered so far points to the validity of that theory. If tomorrow solid evidence arise proving that the theory of evolution, or relativity, or electromagnetism are wrong then real scientists would stop supporting those theories and start trying to build new ones that explain better the new facts. That is why it is called a theory; if it were a dogma not subject to experimental verification again and again it wouldn’t be science.



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  • re Badgers: Ministers ‘wilfully’ ignoring science advice

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27926951

    On the other hand, from the article (and almost buried right at the end):

    Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, the farming minister George Eustice said that Prof Coulson was “completely wrong”.

    “There are two separate things and I think he is confusing these two items, one is the monitoring and evaluation and last year we had 300 visits from (government) vets, compliance visits from Natural England and we carried out over 150 post mortems (of badger carcasses). That was the raw data that was collected,” he said.

    “Then there was the separate thing which is what the IEP did and that was really to give us advice on how we should treat the data we had. It was a one off project. They have given us advice on how we should treat that data and their work is over.”

    Although I don’t support the badger cull in any way, I heard the interview on Radio 4 yesterday and thought the Minister made perfectly good sense. He basically said, if more badger cull trials get started they will be conducted and results analysed in exactly the same way as the first trials. They just don’t need to be instructed (again) on how to treat the data.



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  • Mr DArcy. June 23 @ 4.05 pm:

    Every word a winner and well said, but we have to constantly be on our guard against regression; the dark ages are still too close behind us for comfort.

    And, remember Mesopotamia and Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali et al. That was quite a while ago now, but they’ve never recovered from it.

    OK, we have the bulwark of Newton, Faraday, Darwin, Wallace, Rutherford, Maxwell, Kelvin, Crick, Albert whatshisname others, but the latest incarnation of Fascism means business, and our elected representatives appear to be supine and half asleep dreaming of votes.

    On that cheery note I’ll depart, my daily diatribe done.



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  • What do you mean when you say “lowering the bar” ? It looks as if you advocated holding on to the word “theory”, even if it implies taking pains to explain what is a scientific theory… Then just after, you seem to say that continuing to call it “theory” is, anyway, useless, given that people “do not understand or care about the detail”…



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  • I’ve been suggesting for quite a while to change the name of these bundles of “proven” facts (at least, for the time being and until new facts are discovered) that scientists call “theories”, and call them with a very simple word **: laws !**

    Laws are not exclusively things that are decided by men in Parliaments, aren’t they ? This word has already been used in scientific context ! We can talk about the law of gravitation… the laws of refraction, of electricity, etc… Then why not, quite simply, talk about the law of evolution ?

    It would stop at once all these tedious and lengthy debates about “well… it is a “theory… but-not-in-the-trivial-sense-of-the-word” etc… bit. A law is a law, and everybody should understand the word. Full srop.

    But don’t misread me : I’m not understating that, as such, it becomes an unmovable, frozen and untouchable set of beliefs ! This is the definition of a dogma.

    Everyone pretty much know that laws can be amended ! Amendments are passed by the hundreds, every day, throughout the world. Well… yhat’s exactly what happens to scientific “theories” when new facts are discovered !

    So where is the problem in calling a scientific law……. a scientific law ? ^^



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  • 100% ok with you, as for the definition of a “theory”.

    BUT…. in order to put an end to those repeated, tedious and energy-consuming, lengthy explanations about the fact that a scientific theory shouldn’t be confused with a “theory” in the trivial sense of the term, I’ve been suggesting, for quite a while already, to call these bundles of scientific evidences… with a more immediately understandable word : a law.

    After all… laws are not supposed to be exclusively “decisions made by humans in Parliaments”, aren’t they ??

    The term has already been used many times in scientific contexts : the law of gravitation… the laws of optics… of electricity… etc. So why not call a cat a cat, and call Darwin’s and post-darwinian demonstrated discoveries, quite simply… the law of evolution ??

    Then, average people would understand it at once, without raising doubts about the “real meaning” of the word. A law is a law. Full stop.

    Then… don’t misread me : I’m not saying that it ‘miraculously’ becomes a frozen, untouchable set of beliefs ! That, as you said, is the définition of the dogma.

    Average people can understand pretty easily that a law, as any law they know…. can be amended ! That’s exactly what happens when new facts come up, and “modifies” an established scientific law.

    So… why not shake up a bit and change our habits, thus putting a definitive end to these silly debates with bad faith creationnists ?



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  • T O . . O U R . . D E A R . . M O D E R A T O R S :

    A bug has happened when I was writing THIS here-above comment.

    So… i wrote it again, and NOW… there are two comments saying almost the same thing, which is, you will admit, completely redundant.

    Could you please remove THIS ONE OVER HERE ? ( Not the “new” one)

    Thank you.



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  • James…

    Some say : “never complain, never explain”… Well, I would rather say : *”Never despair, never impair !”**

    And remember : lots people were probably saying what you wrote here, back in 1542.
    Then one year later, in 1543……. “De revolutionibus orbium…” popped out of a Nuremberg printing press ! ok ?

    So… one should never say ‘never’ ! ^o^



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  • 32
    james ballard says:

    @ “”x-bone”

    …Come out of the “Bible Belt” after half a lifetime and see if you don’t temper your optimism !!…:)…



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  • 33
    Pinball1970 says:

    Hi x bone

    Rather than, “lowering the bar,” I should have said “dumbing down.”
    Other posters have explained that the theory of evolution, is a theory in the scientific sense not, the “only a theory,” or just a single fact.

    What I was getting at was, why should the scientific nomenclature be re-structured so ignorant people are not misled?



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  • 34
    aroundtown says:

    The new church academies clauses require that “pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching ‘creationism’ as scientific fact.

    Works for me. Baby steps, baby steps! We’ll get there with some wobble but keep growing steadier with the facts.



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  • 35
    Leslie says:

    Well done guys for a completely misleading headline. The teaching of creationism has of course NOT been banned in all UK schools. While you were celebrating this victory for England, you seem to have forgotten a little place just up the road with a different education system.

    The teaching of creationism has not yet been banned in Scottish state schools. In 2013 it was discovered that a primary school in Kirtonholme, Ayrshire, had invited a US-based fundamentalist Christian group in, who were handing out creationist literature to children. When the Scottish Secular Society exposed this, two headteachers were dismissed from their posts.

    It is due to this that the Scottish Secular Society have submitted a petition to the devolved Scottish Parliament, asking that it give clear guidance to head teachers banning the teaching of creation. We are up against some tough opposition. The former Education Minister, Mike Russell, said that head teachers were best qualified to make these decisions (Kirtonholme proves they are not), and the teacher’s union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) say that the legislation in place is adequate – except there is no such legislation.

    For more info, see here:

    http://scottishsecularsociety.com/petition/presentation-to-the-scottish-parliament-petitions-committee-3rd-september-2013/



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