Secular groups in the U.K. are rejoicing after the government clarified that creationism, supported by biblical literalists, is not allowed to be taught as a scientifically valid theory at academies and public-funded schools.
The Department of Education's funding agreement, under the "Church of England and Catholic single academy model supplemental agreement" document published earlier in June, states that creationism "does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory."
The statement adds: "The requirement on every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school."
The British Humanist Association said on Wednesday that it is welcoming the news, with Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal remarking that the document complies with the group's initiative to have schools teach evolution, and not creationism.
"Now the Government has extended such an explicit rule to all new Academies and Free Schools and made it clear that it believes that existing rules mean that no Academy or Free School can teach pseudoscience," Dhaliwal said.
U.K. creationist groups, such as Creation Science Movement, have criticized BHA's campaign against what they say is "the right of Christian parents to have their children educated in a way that respects their faith."
"The atheists and Darwinists are keen to force acceptance of evolution through legal dictat, but are less keen to debate with creationists. If the evidence is so strong then why not expose it to the light of debate?" the group asked in January. "The reason many of us are skeptical of evolution is because they do not have very strong evidence, only bland assertions and rhetoric, and now backed by the fig leaf of legal requirement."
The Huffington Post UK noted that in 2012, all future free schools were banned from teaching creationism as science, but those requirements did not extend to academies and did not apply to existing free schools. Now, however, the ban will extend to all present or future public-funded schools.
A Department for Education spokesperson argued that the new rules are only a "clarification" of what was already the government position, although Politics.co.uk said that this view is disputed by campaigners.
"It is already the case that all state schools, including academies, are prohibited from teaching creationism as scientific fact. That has not changed," the spokesperson said.
"The funding agreements for academies and free schools have been restructured into one document and drafted in plain English, as part of an ongoing process of simplification."
While as much as 42 percent of Americans side with creationism, as a June Gallup poll found out, U.K. residents are much less likely to believe in the theory.
Sixty-nine percent of Britons responded to a 2012 Angus Reid Public Opinion survey that humans evolved over millions of years, while 17 percent said that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Another 14 percent said that they are not sure.
The poll surveyed over 2,010 Britons and had a plus/minus margin of error of 2.2 percent.