The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today responded to a consultation being run by the Department for Education (DfE) and told it to stop funding creationist schools. The consultation is about the scheme through which 15 hours of free nursery provision is provided to two, three and four year olds. The BHA also met with the Government in March to discuss the matter and has encouraged hundreds of members of the public to write to their MPs and respond to the consultation.
Earlier this year, after submitting Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to local authorities responsible for education, the BHA was alarmed to discover that some 84 schools where there are concerns about the teaching of pseudoscience are receiving funding through the scheme. This included nine schools teaching the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum; 16 that are part of the Christian Schools’ Trust; 32 Charedi Jewish schools (initially this was 13 but 19 more came to light when Hackney Council responded to the FoI request); and 27 Steiner schools.
In addition the BHA identified two Muslim schools being funded where there have been allegations of extremism. Since then others have expressed similar concerns about five more schools.
In the consultation the Government is not proposing to stop funding pseudoscientific schools. However Caroline Lucas MP asked a parliamentary question about the funding, to which Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools Elizabeth Truss MP responded by saying ‘The Government’s policy is that evolution should be taught in schools as an essential element of a rigorous scientific education; teaching creationism as science is incompatible with the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum… We expect the Government’s position on creationism and evolution to be supported by any learning establishment in receipt of funding from the Department for Education to support science education.’
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘Every young person is entitled to a high quality, broad and balanced education. This includes in biology, where evolution is a central topic and is vital to understanding how human life came to be. On the other hand, ideas such as young earth creationism should not be taught as scientifically valid for the very simple reason that they are not.
‘The Government has made clear that it also does not think that institutions teaching creationism as science should receive state funding. But in this area it has unambiguously failed to come up with any mechanism to enforce this position, and so we have a large number of children being taught ideas running contrary to the established scientific consensus thanks to public funds. This needs to be rectified.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7324 3072.
Read about the consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/childminder-agencies-and-changes-to-the-local-authority-role
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on countering creationism: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/countering-creationism
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/
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.