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Department for Education makes changes to Free Schools agreements to guarantee teaching of evolution

30 November 2012

Following discussions with President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, the Department for Education has agreed to insert a specific clause into funding agreements for Free Schools to ensure the comprehensive teaching of evolution.

Concerns were raised that Free Schools would not be required to teach evolution to their students and the Royal Society entered into dialogue with the Department for Education, agreeing the following clause for funding agreements:

The Academy Trust shall make provision for the teaching of evolution as a comprehensive, coherent and extensively evidenced theory.

President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, said:

As with all schools, free schools have an obligation to provide students with the best possible scientific education, which must include the teaching of evolution.  The Royal Society highlighted the concerns of the scientific community that free schools might not meet this obligation and we are delighted to see that the Department for Education has taken our concerns seriously.  The new clause in the funding agreement should ensure that all pupils at free schools have the opportunity to learn about evolution as an extensively evidenced theory and one of the most fundamentally important tenets of modern biology.  The development of the theory of evolution is an excellent example of how science works and there is a clear consensus within the scientific community regarding both its validity and importance.

The teaching of evolution is an important issue for the Royal Society.  The Society welcomed the decision to include evolution in the primary curriculum back in November 2009 and sent all teacher training colleges a booklet on evolution to provide information and advice to all new teachers.