The head teacher of a primary school in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, was mocked and challenged on Twitter after her claims that evolution was "a theory" and there was "more evidence that the Bible is true" caught the attention of peers, parents and industry researchers.
Christina Wilkinson, of St Andrew's Church of England school, responded with her remarks in a tweet after London head teacher Tom Sherrington urged teachers to stick to science when teaching the origins of life. His exact post read: "For me, it is critical that teachers do not water down the science to accommodate religious perspectives if that means sacrificing the acceptance of evidence."
Wilkinson wrote: "Evolution is not a fact. That's why it's called a theory! There's more evidence that the Bible is true."
Sherrington wrote back: "Sigh. I sincerely hope your students aren't told that. Take them to a natural history museum."
Wilkinson's assertion drew contempt, rather than support, on the social media site. Although she said her Twitter account was personal, her handle "@WilkinsonHead" was perceived as referencing her role as head teacher at the school.
Amid calls on Twitter for her to resign, Wilkinson issued a statement stating: "I'd like to make it clear that we teach the full national curriculum in school and that our pupils receive a fully rounded education."
One person online suggested she retrain as a vicar, while another said: "That's an unacceptable level of stupidity from a head teacher."
Liv Boeree tweeted: "This is horrifying. I'm still holding out hope her response is some kind of performance art. Pls pls pls tell me this lady doesn't work in education. Please."
Her Twitter account has since been closed, reports The Guardian.
Sherrington said New Earth creationism and more subtle variants of Intelligent Design are a denial of science, and he thinks all teachers need to be conscious of that, according to The Guardian.
Evolutionary biologist professor Richard Dawkins said Wilkinson was misusing the word theory. "Scientists call evolution a theory only in a special scientists' sense, which is NOT the same as the layman's 'tentative hypothesis,'" he said.
"This is so often misunderstood that I now recommend abandoning the confusing word 'theory' altogether for the case of evolution. Evolution is a fact, as securely attested as any fact in science. 'We are cousins of monkeys and kangaroos' can be asserted with as much confidence as 'Our planet orbits the sun'."
Government officials banned the teaching of creationism in science classes in United Kingdom schools 18 months ago, reports The Guardian, indicating funding would be withdrawn from any free school that taught theories that run "contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations".
Graham Jones, Labor MP for Hyndburn, whose constituency includes Wilkinson's school, said: "It's a Church of England school and it will, of course, teach the Bible. But it should also teach the children about other religions and beliefs. The national curriculum requires a more broad-based perception of evolution and a balance of opinions has to be struck so pupils can make up their own minds."