CREATIONISM AND FREE SCHOOLS
Worries over Creationism and Free schools
The British Centre for Science Education has written to the Education Secretary Michael Gove to ‘express its extreme concern at the application of the Everyday Champions Church, and the stated ambitions of other biblical literalist groups, to run a Free School, especially since such schools are not bound by the National Curriculum’. The BCSE is a faith neutral voluntary organisation that monitors and counters Creationist activity in UK schools. They maintain a comprehensive database of Creationist activity spanning the past decade and have registered their concerns regarding the possible abuse of the new Free Schools system by Creationists. They see a concerted attack on science education by ‘committed believers in biblical inerrancy and literalism.’ Gove and the Department have strengthened their vetting procedures and the process of setting up Free schools, affecting the number of bids signed off. The process by which parents and other groups apply to set up so-called free schools is being tightened up. Instead of submitting a broad-brush plan, groups would have to present more of an outline business case before they are eligible for grants of up to £200,000 to help with planning. Ministers do seem to share the concerns that some groups might use the FS initiative to peddle their own particular agendas, exploiting schools autonomy and freedom over the curriculum. However the tightening up of the process may make it more difficult for parent groups to set up schools and Toby Young, who has led the West London Free School group, doesn’t believe his pioneering bid would have got off the ground under the new regime.