UK’s Gove Bans Creationism From New Free Schools

While Education Secretary Michael Gove says creationism can be taught as part of religion classes, it isn’t to replace science curriculum at free schools.

Michael Gove, U.K. Secretary of Education

England’s Department for Children, Education and Schools has issued new guidelines that specifically prohibit the teaching of creationism or intelligent design at any government-funded schools, the Daily Telegraph reports. The guidelines were issued in response to concerns that evangelical groups might take advantage of the fact that free schools don’t have to follow the national curriculum and could start teaching creationism in their science classes.

The department has received more than 300 requests for permission to set up free schools, and the guidelines are supposed to help those who are reviewing the applications. One of the applicants, the Everyday Champions Church in Newark, Notts, has petitioned to include creationism as part of the national curriculum.

When Education Secretary Michael Gove was asked about the issue in January, he said that applications from evangelical groups would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The British Centre for Science Education then drafted a letter in which the Centre alleged that evangelical groups were attempting to use free schools to launch an attack on science education. However, in March, a spokesman for the Department of Education clarified that Gove considers creationism to be at odds with scientific fact.

Nevertheless, there were still concerns that teaching of creationism in science classes would be allowed, but, with the release of the new guidelines, such speculations could be put to rest. On Friday, Gove released a statement saying that he would reject any free school or academy application that proposed to teach creationism as part of the science curriculum.

The spokesman said such ideas could be legitimately discussed as beliefs in religious education classes, but not taught as science.


  1. Concerned Teacher

    Bravo! Creationism is not science and does not belong in a science classroom. Nor is “intelligent design.”

    Creationism and its offspring may be taught as religion and belief.

  2. What Is Truth?

    Let’s not forget, believing in scientific theory is a belief in something not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no proof, for instance, that evolution is a true theory, and yet it is a “belief” held by many in the academic and scientific world – though many are wisely distancing themselves from that as the science shows otherwise. The definition of religion is: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. This means Science could be classified as a religion. Intelligent Design isn’t a religion at all, it is the process of considering that possibility. Isn’t it odd that it is okay to teach the “religion” of science to our children and deprive them of the possibility that there was at least an intelligent design?

    • Concerned Teacher

      Relgious belief does not require any evidence or data; it is based on belief, that is why we term it “belief.”

      A theory is the best explanation we have for a particularl phenomenon at the time. To articulate a theory we must be able to take measurements, to collect data, and we must have replicated this data to the degree that MOST scientists in the field of study are largely comfortable with the theory. This does not mean we do not continue to investigate, to gather more data, to test the theory. Theories in astronomy continue to evolve as we build better tools with which to investigate the cosmos and accumulate new data.

      While we might argue religion and science involve belief, there is a world of difference on the basis for the belief. Anyone can hold pretty much any religious belief, for a hallmark of religious beliefs is that they are not provable, it is not possible to show that one person’s religious belief is superior to another’s. Religious beliefs are built upon the words and teachings of saviors and prophets, and, in some cases, a person’s direct and personal experiences with the unseen. This is not the case with science.

      When we work in the human realm, we generally fall short of perfect. There are problems, always. Scientists have complained that the “old school” is often reluctant to embrace newer theories when recently collected evidence cracks the foundation of a widely accepted theory.

      Scientists are expected to keep open minds, to question, to look for exceptions, to investigate. These mental attitudes really have no place in religion, where the believer takes the words of their prophet or savior as fact, and as these words don’t change, generally the defining beliefs of the religion do not.

      Religion has no place in the science classroom, it is not based on the practices we like to call the “scientific method.”

    • Concerned Teacher

      Finally, while I use the term differently, perhaps than you, I do not find anything about science to conflict with the notion that there is an intelligence that is, on some level, responsible for “creation.”

      However, it is impossible, given the scientific tools and data, to accept, literally, the creation myths of any religious system. These myths are stories that were created by our ancestors who lacked the ability to scientifically investigate, so they created stories purported to explain the natural world around them. We are wired, I believe, to seek meaning.

      We can teach both to our children, one in the science classroom and the other in our homes and places of worship. We can also trust that one day our children will mature into adults who will be capable of deciding for themselves where they stand, perhaps this scares us a little, for the tendency is to want our children to choose our beliefs and orientation, but if the succeeding generation always did this, we would have no advancement, would we?

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May 24th, 2011

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