'Creationism' School Opens Its Doors

Sep 10, 2003 11:19 AM EDT

A new £20m school which will teach biblical creation, opens on Teesside on Monday.

The King's Academy in Middlesbrough, is a partnership between the Department for Education and the Wearside-based Vardy Foundation.

It is a sister facility to Gateshead's Emmanuel College, which already has a "creationism" curriculum.

The boss of Sunderland-based car dealership Reg Vardy has provided much of the cash for the school - and plans more throughout the UK.

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

The new 1,150-pupil Middlesbrough school stands in a 30-acre site and replaces the former Coulby Newham and Brackenhoe schools.

King's Academy principal, Nigel McQuoid, said: "The academy's principal objectives are to increase educational opportunities and to provide the very best learning experience for the young people of Middlesbrough.

"Our goal will be to deliver highly skilled, well qualified, confident, enterprising, creative and moral citizens who are ready for the adult world.

"However, most of all, we hope to see young people emerge with a set of personal and spiritual values which will sustain and inspire them through life."

The teaching of biblical creation in schools has been criticised 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."

Sir Peter Vardy said: "Already, this school is over-subscribed, so there is demand from parents and students for organisations like this.

"We are not brainwashing children, what we are trying to do is put something back into the region."

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".