Grindon Hall Christian School has signed its funding agreement with the Department for Education (DfE) to open as a Free School. The news, which was confirmed to the British Humanist Association (BHA) by the DfE, means that the school has now gained final approval to become a fully state funded school from next month. The BHA has expressed regret at the decision of the Government to fund a school with such a clear record of teaching creationism as science, as set out in its ‘Creation Policy’. However, the DfE also told the BHA that John Burn, one of the most prominent advocates of teaching creationism in state schools, is no longer chair of governors of the school.
The BHA first discovered the school’s ‘Creation Policy’ document on 16 July, leading to national press where the school said that they would not teach creationism in science but in assemblies instead. On 25 July, the BHA revealed that the Chairman of Governors of the school is John Burn, former chief academic advisor to the Emmanuel Schools Federation and longtime opponent of evolution.
The DfE has now told the BHA that Grindon Hall Christian School has signed a funding agreement with them to open as a Free School – meaning that it has now gained final approval. However, John Burn is no longer Chair of Governors – though it is unclear why this is, and if he is still a Governor at all.
BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘We are deeply disappointed that, despite the overwhelming evidence of this school’s having taught creationism until very recently, and the large number of voices in opposition to it joining the state sector, it will now do this. While it is a positive sign that John Burn is no longer chair of governors, we nonetheless remain deeply unconfident about the decision to approve the school in spite of its past.’
‘We will continue to challenge the Government to ensure its policy on creationism and schools becomes sufficiently robust.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
Read Grindon Hall Christian School’s ‘Creation Policy’: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/creation-policy.doc
Read the previous BHA press release, ‘Free School due to open in September 2012 “teaches creation as a scientific theory”’, 17 July 2012: https://humanism.org.uk/news/view/1079
Read the previous BHA press release, ‘Grindon Hall Christian School denies the overwhelming evidence of its “Creation Policy” as Government tells school it is about to be approved’, 17 July 2012: https://humanism.org.uk/news/view/1085
Read the BHA briefing on groups teaching creationism in schools: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/bha-briefing-creationist-groups-approved-to-run-free-schools.pdf
In 2011, the BHA came together with 30 leading scientists and educators and four other organisations to launch ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ Read the statement from scientists including Sir David Attenborough, Professor Richard Dawkins and Professor Michael Reiss, and organisations including the BHA, the Association for Science Education, the British Science Association, the Campaign for Science and Engineering and Ekklesia: http://evolutionnotcreationism.org.uk/
View the BHA-backed Government e-petition on the same subject, which closed on Sunday with 24,628 signatures: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1617
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.