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Government changes Academy model funding agreement… but DOESN’T ban creationist schools

The Government yesterday revised the Academy model funding agreement to bring it in line with all the recent changes made to the Free School model funding agreement – except it declined to ban creationist schools. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed dismay at this missed opportunity, and is unsure why the Department for Education (DfE) decided against making this change.

Last month, the Government changed the Free School model funding agreement to preclude ‘the teaching, as an evidence-based view or theory, of any view or theory that is contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations.’ This change was made in order to ban creationism being taught in schools, and was heralded as a victory by the BHA, who had coordinated the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ campaign, and called for this precise change.

The next logical step would have been to make the same change to the next revision of the Academy model funding agreement, released yesterday, but the DfE have omitted this crucial element.

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘This is a terrible missed opportunity – the government really had an open goal. At a guess I would say that the DfE didn’t make this change because the threat of creationist Free Schools was much higher than the threat of creationist Academies – many proposed Free Schools have had creationism right at their core.

‘But really it is inexplicable as to why the government would decline to make this change. Individual Academies may sometimes choose to also teach creationism as scientifically valid, and inserting this requirement would have decisively put a stop to that. There is no clear reason for them to have not done this.’

Notes

TAKE ACTION! Join over 22,000 others in sign the BHA’s government e-petition, ‘Teach evolution, not creationism’, at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1617

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.

Read the revised Academies Single model funding agreement mainstream, updated 15 February 2012: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/doc/s/single%20model%20funding%20agreement%20mainstream%2015%20february%202012.doc

Read the Mainstream Free Schools model Funding Agreement, revised 9 January 2012: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/mainstream%20free%20schools%20model%20funding%20agreement.doc

Recent changes to the Free School model funding agreement were:

  • Section 22 – it is no longer expected that Free Schools will have a subject-based specialism.
  • Section 22A – a new section that requires Academy Trusts to publish information in relation to the content and approach of their curricula – also to be welcomed.
  • Section 24A – a new section that requires Academy Trusts to teach in accordance with the scientific consensus.
  • Section 25.a) – now requires ‘faith’ Free Schools to conform to schedule 19 paragraph 4 of the Schools Standards and Framework Act, which means that parents of pupils at these schools can request to that their children be taught the locally agreed RE syllabus, instead of a confessional syllabus, as is the case for parents of pupils at VA schools – another welcome change.
  • Section 26.c) – a new section that give the Secretary of State the explicit power to veto any proposals by a Free School without a religious character to acquire one.
  • Section 28 – a new section that requires Academy Trusts to comply with section 405 of the Education Act 1996, which means that parents must be able to opt their children out of sex education – a negative change.
  • Section 28B – a new section that requires Academy Trusts to promote fundamental British values.

All of these changes have just been made to the Academies model funding agreement, except for 26.c) – because it had already been made – and 24A – requiring Academy Trusts to teach in accordance with the scientific consensus.

Read the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ statement from scientists including Sir David Attenborough, Professor Richard Dawkins and Professor Michael Reiss, the British Humanist Association, the Association for Science Education, the British Science Association, the Campaign for Science and Engineering and Ekklesia at http://evolutionnotcreationism.org.uk/

Read the press release at the launch of the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ statement: https://humanism.org.uk/news/view/895

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on countering creationism: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/countering-creationism

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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