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BHA reveals creationist private schools continue to receive state funds through nurseries despite Government ban

Following a Department for Education decision last year banning creationist and alleged extremist private schools from receiving state funding through the Government scheme providing 15 hours of free nursery tuition per week, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has today revealed that such schools have continued to receive state funds regardless. The BHA has expressed concern about the Government’s failure to implement the ban.

In 2014 the BHA identified some 91 schools in receipt of funding where the BHA had concerns about the teaching of creationism as scientifically valid, or about the schools’ ability to promote British values. Following on from this, the BHA and hundreds of its supporters responded to a consultation asking the Government to preclude such funding, which the Government subsequently decided to do.

Despite the ban coming into force last September, Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sent by the BHA to local authorities this January found that state funds are still being received by at least two-thirds of the nurseries about which concerns were previously raised. Of the 91 schools identified by the BHA as receiving funding between 2010 and 2014, 54 are still receiving state funds whilst a further seven that we were previously unaware of are now also receiving funds. Only 14 are no longer funded. Data for a further 20 of the schools has not yet been made available.

In total, the BHA identified:

  • Five schools teaching the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. ACE nursery resources bought by the BHA show that in Science children are taught to identify what happened on each of the days of creation, and until recently the Loch Ness monster was featured in textbooks as evidence which disproved evolution.
  • 14 schools run by the Christian Schools’ Trust. In 2009 the CST circulated a statement recommending that schools teach creationism as science.
  • 20 Charedi Jewish Schools. These schools are also usually creationist and like ACE and CST schools, are not approved for state funding through the Free School programme.
  • 22 Steiner schools. The BHA has expressed concern about Steiner schools in the past, particularly with regard to their stance on pseudoscience, homeopathy and vaccinations.

In addition, funding is still being given to two nurseries in Haringey and Slough run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, an organisation that has previously been dogged by allegations of links to extremist Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Despite calls by both David Cameron and Michael Gove in as early as 2009 for funding to be withdrawn from these schools, the BHA revealed last year that the two nurseries were still receiving funds.  The Haringey school was recently found by Ofsted to be failing to promote British values.

Commenting on these latest findings, BHA Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal said: ‘Since 2011 our “Teach evolution, not creationism” campaign has been calling for an end to creationism being taught as fact in any publicly-funded school, and we congratulated the Government last summer when it  changed the rules on nursery place funding to this effect. It is hugely disappointing therefore to discover that creationist schools have continued to receive state funds since the ban on their doing so came into force.

‘Little seems to have been done to ensure conformity to the new rules and the Department for Education urgently needs to address this. The funding is administered by local authorities and they do not seem to have the same awareness as the DfE as to which schools are implicated by such a ban. As we have done in the past, we will be doing all we can to raise the issue with relevant officials to ensure that the ban on funding is properly implemented.’

Notes:

For further comment or information contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

See which nurseries are getting funding: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/State-funded-nurseries-of-concern-2014-15.xlsx 

See the BHA’s scans of Accelerated Christian Education kindergarten Science and Social Studies textbooks: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/ACE-nursery-science.pdf – these were purchased by a supporter of the BHA from Christian Education Europe’s UK shop.

Read the previous BHA comment, ‘BHA expresses alarm at creationist and alleged extremist nurseries getting state funding, 18 March 2014, https://humanism.org.uk/2014/03/18/bha-expresses-alarm-creationist-alleged-extremist-nurseries-getting-state-funding/

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on science, evolution and creationism: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/science-evolution-and-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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