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Evolution of Free Schools Policy

3 December 2012

The ability of free schools to exercise their freedoms to teach creationism as a credible scientific theory have been restricted by the Department for Education (DfE) in changes to the model funding agreement. The funding agreement between the free school and DfE, which establishes the framework within which the school must operate, will now impose a requirement to only teach creationism as part of RE whereas evolution must form the central plank of science teaching.

Whilst the move will gain wide support from the scientific and humanist communities, it does also show that the well-publicised freedoms and flexibilities available to free schools and academies are subject to changes in DfE policy. It also shows that a more vigorous approach to selecting free school groups, with transparent criteria, is required to ensure that the policy of “narrowing the gap” is not diluted by promotion of non-educational reasons.

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