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News - 30 November 2012

New Clause to be included in Free Schools Agreement

A clause is to be included in all funding agreements for Free Schools opening in 2013 onwards which means that they will have to teach evolution as a "comprehensive, coherent and extensively evidenced theory."

Sir Paul Nurse president of the Royal Society told BBC News the previous rules on free schools and the teaching of evolution versus creationism had been "not tight enough". He said that although the previous rules had confined creationism to religious education lessons, "the Royal Society identified a potential issue that schools could have avoided teaching evolution by natural selection in science lessons or dealt with it in such a perfunctory way, that the main experience for students was the creationist myth".

Peter Ham Chief Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:
“The new rules mean if a free school is found to be acting in breach of their funding agreement, for example teaching creationism as a scientific fact or not teaching evolution, the Department for Education will take "swift action which could result in the termination of that funding agreement".

The Schools Minister, Lord Hill said: “this new clause will provide more explicit reassurance that free schools will have to meet that expectation."

Rachel Wolf, director of the New Schools Network, which provides advice and support for groups who want to set up free schools, welcomed the funding agreement changes but said that the existing rules meant free schools already had to teach evolution in science lessons
If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

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