Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education what mechanisms his Department has put in place to ensure that (a) schools, (b) nurseries and(c) learning establishments receiving any funds or endorsement from his Department teach evolution and do not teach that creationism is scientifically valid.
Elizabeth Truss (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education; South West Norfolk, Conservative)
The Government’s policy is that evolution should be taught in schools as an essential element of a rigorous scientific education; teaching creationism as science is incompatible with the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum.
The national curriculum requires all maintained schools to teach evolution as an established scientific theory. All academies and free schools are required to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum. The model funding agreements for all kinds of academies and free schools are being revised. The latest published version includes a specific requirement to teach evolution, and prohibits the teaching of creationism as an evidence-based theory.
As in all areas of education, we look to Ofsted as the best and most effective lever to ensure expected standards are being achieved. All state funded schools are subject to Ofsted inspections which are required to report on the quality of education provided in the school including the quality of teaching.
Providers in receipt of early years funding must follow clear standards to make sure children are taught the key skills they need to get a good start in life. Where an Ofsted inspector identifies any concerns, they must notify Ofsted’s compliance, investigation and enforcement team, who will consider notifying the appropriate agencies.
We expect the Government’s position on creationism and evolution to be supported by any learning establishment in receipt of funding from the Department for Education to support science education.