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Evolution to be taught in primary schools as Government publishes final national curriculum

The Government has published the final national curriculum for all subjects except key stage 4 English, maths and science, to be taught in English maintained schools from September 2014. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has responded to all previous consultations surrounding the new curriculum. It welcomed changes in some areas, such as the fact that evolution is to be taught in primary schools for the first time – a change long campaigned for; but expressed regret that more hasn’t been done on other important topics such as sex education.

Commenting on the changes with respect to evolution, BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal said, ‘We very much welcome the fact that evolution is to be taught in primary schools, four years earlier than is currently the case. This is a change we have long campaigned for, for example through ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’, as scientists and educationalists have long told us that such a central topic to biology must be taught at a much more formative stage.’

However, turning to other areas, Ms Dhaliwal continued, ‘We are otherwise disappointed by the new national curriculum, which in some places represents no progress while in others is a significant scaling back from what is currently taught. On sex education in particular it is disappointing that the Government claims to recognise the importance of every young person receiving a full and comprehensive education in this vital area, due to the benefits in terms of sexual health, reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, and ensuring relationships are consensual; but at the same time, hampers such a goal by allowing most secondaries to opt out of teaching the national curriculum and reducing the amount that the rest have to cover.

‘We will continue to campaign to improve all areas of the school curriculum which are of interest to humanists, including sex and relationships education, science, citizenship, religious education and school assemblies. And we recommend schools look at resources such as the PSHE Association’s Programme of Study and those produced by the Sex Education Forum.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

Read the new national curriculum: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education/series/national-curriculum

Read the summary report on the last consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/national-curriculum-review-new-programmes-of-study-and-attainment-targets-from-september-2014

Read the BHA’s most recent consultation response: https://humanism.org.uk/2013/08/08/bha-responds-to-latest-english-national-curriculum-consultation/

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on the school curriculum: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/

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 Humanism and a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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