Like many of you I wrote to my MP about what I view as a threat to education from creationist groups intent on running free schools in the UK.
Below is the response from my MP, Greg Hands of Hammersmith & Fulham fame, and below that is my response to his response.
Dear Mr Smith,
Thank you for contacting me about the Exemplar Newark Business Academy.
The Government has been very clear that creationism should not form part of any science curriculum or be taught as a scientific alternative to accepted scientific theories. The Department for Education expects to see evolution and its foundation topics fully included in any science curriculum.
Specifically in response to the Newark Business Academy, I would like to assure you that all free school proposals are subject to due diligence checks by a specialist unit within the Department to ensure that the people that are setting up the school are suitable. Every application approved, including this one, has also had to demonstrate that the new school will provide a broad and balanced curriculum.
Open Free Schools are subject to Ofsted inspection in the same way as all other schools and the Secretary of State has powers to intervene in a school where there is significant cause for concern.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Greg Hands MP
And my response:
Dear Mr Hands,
Thank you for your response to my letter regarding the creationist group school, the Exemplar Newark Business Academy. Ref: E/CreationistFreeSchool1P1.
I will be brief in my response but I hope that the point I raise is taken with the serious consideration it deserves.
I understand that creationism, in whatever form it hides, may not be taught in science classes in our schools. However, there is a further problem which I’m sure you’re aware of but one which MPs seem to be ignoring en masse:
Indoctrinated children will believe the myths they’re told in RE over the facts they’re taught in science.
This point was illustrated in the Richard Dawkins documentary ‘Faith School Menace?’ – not a title he chose – in a scene where he discusses evolution and creationism with some children from the Madani High School.
The children, whilst probably believing other scientific theories (think gravity, etc), choose not to believe that evolution is true because it conflicts with their religious teachings.
Perhaps more worryingly the science teacher seems to think evolution describes other living apes as our direct ancestors! How did that one slip past Ofsted?
Having faith schools is bad enough as it is, but allowing our schools to be run by groups citing creationism as a valid theory is barmy beyond belief.
I hope that you will reconsider your position on this matter. I know you’re a man of faith but I have met many people who are wonderful, inspiring and sensible in spite of their religion. Perhaps you could be one.