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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 12:04 GMT
Warning of confusion over Creationism
children in science lesson
Scientists want tighter controls on science lessons
Scientists say schoolchildren are being confused by conflicting teaching about the creation of the world.

They are stepping up their campaign against the teaching of Creationism in schools.

A total of 36 scientists and philosophers have written to the government, the chief scientific officer and the exam body the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) expressing alarm that creationism theory is being taught in schools.

The letter calls for a tightening up of science curriculum to prevent creation stories being taught as anything but myth.

"Denying Darwinism"

Professor Lewis Wolpert of University College London, a biologist, is one of those who signed the letter.

He said: "To teach Creationism is to deny Darwinism and the most important idea in the whole of biology is Darwin's theory of evolution."

Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio Four, Professor Wolpert said children were confused by being taught Darwin's theory of evolution in science lessons and then, in religious education, being taught biblical accounts of creation.

The scientists, he said, were concerned about part of the national curriculum which said children should be made aware of the controversies surrounding some scientific theories such as Darwinism.

Chairman of the QCA Sir William Stubbs said the curriculum was a positive guideline, setting out what should be taught - not what should not be taught.

Charles Darwin
Darwin's theory of evolution is the most important idea in biology, says Professor Wolpert
He told the Today programme: "Creationism is not on the curriculum.

"If a school is teaching Creationism then it is teaching it, on its own initiative, alongside the national curriculum.

"There is a body of opinion - a small body - which says there is a scientific basis for Creationism."

Sir William said schools were free to present such information, but should make it clear that the body of scientific opinion sided with Darwin.

The row over Creationism being taught in schools flared up earlier this month when leading scientists asked Ofsted to re-inspect Emmanuel College in Gateshead after it was accused of teaching the biblical story of the Creation as a literal truth.

The school had received a glowing report from schools inspectors.

The Prime Minister waded into the debate in the Commons, apparently defending the school.

Now the Chief Inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson has confirmed that he has written to the chairman of the school's governors, Sir Peter Vardy, asking for clarification of the school's policy on science teaching and for samples of children's work.

He will then decide whether any further action is necessary.

See also:

14 Mar 02 | UK Politics
The creation of a row
11 Mar 02 | Americas
Evolution challenged in US schools
07 Oct 99 | Education
Evolution removed from school tests
17 Dec 99 | Education
Creation story still banned in class
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