Creationist free school applications plummet

The number of faith schools continues to grow, mostly started by mainstream Christian groups

Religious groups who believe in creationism appear to be abandoning attempts to open up free schools, according to an analysis of the latest batch of applications to join Education Secretary Michael Gove’s flagship programme.

Figures show that three prominent pro-creationism groups who have submitted large numbers of applications in the past have only submitted one application between them - from the Plymouth Brethren - for the go-ahead in September 2014.

“We are pleased that the number of applications from creationists have declined,” said Richy Thompson, faith schools campaigner at the British Humanist Association.

However, the number of faith schools is still growing - 28 per cent of the whole tranche approved by Mr Gove - largely as a result of successful applications from mainstream Christian groups. The majority of applications from Muslim groups have been rejected - as have all the applications from Hindu groups.

Meanwhile, the Government is to give all schools the green light to set their own school term dates - and abandon the six-week summer holiday break if they so wish. Up until now, that power has only been vested in free schools and academies.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “It is heads and teachers who know their parents and pupils best, not local authorities. So it is right that all schools are free to set their own term dates in the interest of parents and pupils.”

Only last month Mr Gove argued that schools should be free to adopt longer term times and longer school days in an attempt to raise standards amongst pupils.

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