The British Centre for Science Education has posted an excellent blog article (British Centre for Science Education: Creationism in the Deep South (of England)) reviewing the background to a disturbing incident at St Peter’s Church of England Aided School in Exeter.
A whole year group of year 11 children are brought together and have a man introduced to them as a scientist. He talks to them for one and a half hours about his views on what he says is a very controversial area of science. In fact he thinks the world is just six thousand years old and that the world’s scientists are biased against him and his scientific colleagues simply because they are against Christianity. He is able to promote his web site to the kids, a web site full of more misleading nonsense claims.
This individual was Philip Bell of Creation Ministries International. The story has received coverage in a local paper (This is Exeter: Anger after controversial creationist is invited to talk at school): the comments are quite interesting, and worth a read (in particular, the comments reveal something of the workings of those of a creationist bent).
In an era where religious schools appear to be on the ascendant in the UK, I think it behooves those in charge of our children’s education to take care that religious schools don’t permit teaching creationism as a valid ‘scientific’ alternative to evolution. This is particularly important as the present Government’s ideological drives lead it to further deregulation of schools (such as the desire for Academies and Free Schools to be less subject to the National Curriculum).
A particularly worrying development was the response of the Head Teacher of St Peter’s Church of England Aided School, who responded to the parent’s letters of concern in which she requested her children from worship (which I understand is her right as a parent) with the following worrying statement:
You should be aware that I, having a duty of care to both of your children, shall be monitoring your actions and their consequences for the children with regard to such matters very carefully indeed.
The Head Teacher seems to be aware of his duty of care to the children attending his school. What’s less satisfactory is that he appears to be expressing this as what could be construed as a threat, and not in a way that would protect children from fundamentalist and literalist biblical interpretations (billed as science) which not only fly in the face of science, but also contradict the Church of England’s position.