The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the British government’s decision to not fund schools that teach creationism or are run by creationist groups. The Department of Education issued a new revision of the model funding agreement for Free Schools in order to preclude “the teaching, as an evidence-based view or theory, of any view or theory that is contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations” The change follows the BHA coordinating the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ campaign, which called for this precise change.
“We congratulate the government for taking this significant step to prevent creationist Free Schools,” said Andrew Copson, chief executive of the BHA and vice president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). “There is still further work to be done to ensure that all schools, not just Free Schools, are prevented from teaching creationism, to include evolution in the primary National Curriculum, and to ensure evolution’s teaching in all schools. We look forward to working with the government and all those who care about rational and evidence-based education to achieve these additional changes.”
In September, the BHA came together with thirty leading scientists and science educators including Sir David Attenborough, Professor Richard Dawkins and Professor Michael Reiss, and five national organizations to launch ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’, which called on the government to introduce statutory guidance against the teaching of creationism. The campaign gained widespread media attention. The BHA also launched a government e-petition making the same call, which has now garnered over 20,000 signatures.
In subsequent written correspondence with civil servants, the BHA stated that “Our concern is for the government to make absolutely clear that there is no chance it will ever accept [creationist Free School] bids, or allow any state-funded school to teach creationism as science, anywhere in the curriculum, and this is only possible through a change in the law… we would support any adjustment to the model funding agreement to add a statement [to this effect]… Could we request that the next time the [Free School] model funding agreement is reviewed, our desire for this point’s inclusion is considered?”