Monday, 16 July 2012

BHA: Creationists Approved To Open Free School In 2013 – Here’s How You Can Help Stop It

I write to you with the bad news that a creationist group has gained approval from the Government to open a fully state-funded Free School from 2013. The school, called ‘Exemplar – Newark Business Academy’, is a revised bid from the same people who proposed Everyday Champion’s Academy last year. Everyday Champion’s Academy, which was formally backed by Everyday Champions Church, was explicitly rejected due to concerns surrounding the teaching of creationism.

The group initially caused controversy in February last year, when while promoting the previous bid, Everyday Champions Church leader Gareth Morgan stated that ‘Creationism will be taught as the belief of the leadership of the school. It will not be taught exclusively in the sciences, for example. At the same time, evolution will be taught as a theory.’When the previous bid was rejected, they were told by Government that Mr Gove ‘was unable to accept that an organisation with creationist beliefs could prevent these views being reflected in the teaching in the school and in its other activities.’ However, despite this categorical statement, the bid has now been accepted. This is ostensibly because the group will not teach creationism in science. But since gaining approval, they have stated that they intend to teach creationism in RE instead.

Please write to your MP and Michael Gove to let them know this is unacceptable.

The teaching of creationism in RE is still seriously concerning as it is surely intended by the group to sow confusion in the minds of pupils. This group is clearly teaching as much as it can get away with. Furthermore, it seems like a recipe for disaster to fund a school run by a creationist group promising not to teach creationism. Even if the group had promised this, why is it worth the risk?

It’s not too late to stop the plans. The proposed school has now been ‘pre-approved’ by the Government, which means it will work in support of the plans between now and September 2013, when the school is due to open. However, the proposals will not gain final approval until next year.

We have written to Michael Gove opposing the plans, urging the Department to cease support for this proposal, and setting out why creationists should not be allowed to run a Free School. Please join us by also writing both to your MP and to Michael Gove to also show your concern at the proposed school, and please encourage all your friends, family and colleagues to do likewise.

Best wishes,

Andrew Copson
Chief Executive, British Humanist Association