The British Humanist Association alerts those concerned about such matters to further attempts by creationists to attain free school status (Another creationist Free School proposed for 2013):
A creationist Free School, Sheffield Christian Free School, has been proposed to open in 2013, and last week held a public meeting to gauge parent support. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which recently worked with other groups to launch a new campaign website, ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’, has expressed concern at the continuing confidence of creationist groups in applying to open Free Schools, and disappointment that the Department for Education (DfE) hasn’t taken firmer steps to discourage such applications.
Sheffield Christian Free School will be run by Christian Family Schools Limited, who already run two private schools in Sheffield, including Bethany School. Both are members of the Christian Schools’ Trust, a network of over 40 private schools founded by creationist Sylvia Baker, author of Bone of Contention, who was the guest speaker at the public meeting. Sheffield Christian Free School’s curriculum policy will be ‘broadly based on nine themes found in the early chapters of the book of Genesis.’ Bethany School’s science curriculum is all about God’s role in creation, and creation appears throughout the school’s curriculum grid.
Presumably Michael Gove’s response to the Everyday Champions Church proposal will be repeated for this case. The danger is that the Sheffield Christian Free School will succeed in pulling the wool over regulators’ eyes, unlike the Everyday Champions Church, which openly espoused the teaching of creationism. Until they tried to deny it that is (Why the Everyday Champions Church’s Free School bid was rejected). Going on the evidence of Bethany School cited by the BHA above, the Sheffield Christian Free School proposal is something to be worried about. Interestingly, the Sheffield Christian Free School makes the astonishing claim that (my emphasis):
Professor Francis, based on extensive research carried out in the 1990’s, found that teenagers in the new Christian schools were spiritually and psychologically healthy. They were less superstitious, less racist, less likely to be bullied and more concerned about global issues than their counterparts in secular schools.
The claim that kids attending a school with a deeply religious focus are less superstitious than those attending other schools is quite interesting. Perhaps faith schools breed atheists? Or maybe the survey was carried out by people who don’t class christian belief as superstitious! If you go here, you find a bit more information, such as the proud claim that only 7% of kids at Christian schools agree with the statement “I believe in evolution creating all things over millions of years“. Ho hum.