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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Schools to teach 'creationism'
Science lessons
Science lessons based on evolution theory are taught in school
More schools teaching biblical creation are to be established across the north east of England.

The boss of a Sunderland-based car dealership is to pay for up to six new schools in Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside.

All will teach creationism alongside the theory of evolution.

The Vardy Foundation, which plans the new schools, already runs Gateshead's Emmanuel College.

Pupils there are taught biblical creationism - the belief that the Old Testament account of creation is true - along with evolutionary theory.

But the plans have been condemned by Richard Dawkins, professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University.

He said: "To call evolution a faith position equated with creationism is educational debauchery.

"It is teaching something that is utter nonsense.

"Evolution is supported by mountains of scientific evidence.

"These children are being deliberately and wantonly misled."

Charles darwin
Darwinian theory is accepted by the National Curriculum

Sir Peter Vardy, who has amassed a personal fortune estimated at 75m through a chain of car dealerships, defended the project.

A new school will open in Middlesbrough in September and negotiations are continuing with other authorities in the North East.

He said: "We present both. One is a theory, the other is a faith position. It is up to the children.

"We give them an all-round education so both are presented to the students.

"It is a way of improving the level of education for our young people in inner-city areas.

"Emmanuel has done that. It has a very clean bill of health by Ofsted.

"It has had the best report that Ofsted has ever written."

The National Curriculum requires that Darwinian evolution is put across as the dominant scientific theory but also requires that pupils are taught "how scientific controversies can result from different ways of interpreting empirical data".

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