Victory has been declared for the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) as the Scottish Government has finally issued a clear statement that creationism should not be taught in science classes in schools.
In September 2014, the SSS lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament for an explicit position to be taken on creationism in schools.
While creationism can be taught in religious and moral education, scientific advisor for the SSS Paul Braterman explained to the Herald Scotland that the Scottish Government’s previous stance didn’t allow or ban teaching of creationism in schools’ science lessons. “Now we have, at last, a clear statement from the responsible minister that creationism should not be taught as science,” said Braterman.
However, earlier this month, Members of Scottish Parliament within the Education and Culture Committee issued a statement saying that there was no necessity for legislation on teaching creationism in schools as teachers should exercise their professional judgement.
There is a clear conflict of interest that could arise from allowing instructors to teach the curriculum as they see fit, though measures are in place for young people to receive a balanced education under the Curriculum for Excellence.
The SSS noted a letter sent to the committee by Minister for Learning and Science Alasdair Allan, which also states that “Guidance provided by Education Scotland, set out in the ‘Principles and Practice’ papers and the ‘Experiences and Outcomes’ documentation for each of the eight curriculum areas does not identify Creationism as a scientific principle. It should therefore not be taught as part of science lessons.”
“Education Scotland does not identify creationism as a scientific principle, and it does not form part of the learning and teaching of science in our schools,” said a Scottish Government spokesman to the Herald Scotland. “Teachers use their professional judgement, experience and understanding of their pupils to respond sensitively to complex and challenging issues, such as those posed by differing perspectives.”
The teaching of creationism as a scientific fact and evidence-based theory is prohibited in schools in England and Wales.