Teach Evolution not Creationism in Wales
The Welsh Government is currently consulting on a new national curriculum that will drastically overhaul education in Wales. Unlike in England, it does not explicitly prohibit treating creationism and other pseudoscientific theories as if they are science, and evolution is only mentioned once, and for ages 14-16 at that.
In September 2019, 46 prominent scientists, science educators and organisations – including Sir David Attenborough, Humanists UK and its President Professor Alice Roberts, the British Science Association, the Association for Science Education, the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and Revd Professor Michael Reiss – wrote an open letter to Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, urging the Welsh Government to explicitly include evolution in the primary curriculum and ban the teaching of creationism and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based.
The currently proposed curriculum reforms will see more flexibility given to schools over what is taught, and we are concerned that teaching creationism as science could become possible where currently it is more difficult. This campaign, if successful, would prevent that possibility.
The letter reads:
As scientists and educators, we believe that good science teaching is vital to the education and development of all children, wherever they live in the UK. We note the Welsh Government is currently consulting on a new national curriculum that will drastically overhaul education in Wales, including science education. The new Science and Technology Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE) doesn’t explicitly prohibit presenting creationism and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, and evolution is only mentioned once (and only at secondary level at that).
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. It is a fundamental concept that describes and explains the development of the diversity of life on the planet. Pupils should be introduced to it early – certainly at primary level – as it underpins so much else. What’s more, without an explicit ban on teaching creationism, intelligent design, and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, such teaching may begin to creep into the school curriculum, when it is vital children in Wales are not exposed to pseudoscientific doctrines masquerading as science.
State schools in England, including primary schools, are already required to teach evolution ‘as a comprehensive, coherent, and extensively evidenced theory’, and ‘must not allow any view or theory to be taught as evidence-based if it is contrary to scientific or historical evidence or explanations’. We urge the Welsh Government to introduce the same requirements in Wales.
Signatories to the letter:
Shaun Reason, Chief Executive, Association for Science Education (ASE)
Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive, British Science Association
Dr Daniel Rathbone, Assistant Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering (CASE)
Simon Barrow, Director, Ekklesia
Kathy Riddick, Wales Humanists
Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE FRS FinstP
Dr Iolo ap Gwyn FRMS
Professor Peter Atkins
Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE FRS FLS FZS FSA FRSGS
Dr Susan Blackmore
Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore FBA
Professor Sir Tom Blundell FRS FRSC FMedSci MAE
Professor Paul Braterman
Dr Helena Cronin
Marianne Cutler, Director, Curriculum Innovation, ASE
Dr Helen Czerski
Professor Richard Dawkins FRS FRSL
Professor Athene Donald DBE FRS
Professor Robin Dunbar FBA FRAI
Professor Sir Anthony Epstein CBE FRS FMedSci
Dr Dylan Evans
Dr Diana Fleischman
Professor Chris French CPsychol FBPsS FRSA
Professor Dame Anne Glover DBE FRS FRSE FASM FRSGS
Professor Janice Griffiths CSciTeach, Co-chair, ASE
Dr Julian Huppert FRSC
Professor Laurence D Hurst FMedSci FRS, Director of the Milner Centre for Evolution and President of the Genetics Society
Professor Saiful Islam FRSC
Professor Steve Jones FRS
Professor Armand Leroi
Professor Pat McKeown OBE FREng
Richard Needham CSciTeach, Chair of Trustees, ASE
Professor Mark Pallen
Simon Quinnell, Chair-elect, ASE
Reverend Professor Michael Reiss FRSB FRSA AcSS
Viscount Matt Ridley DL FRSL FMedSci
Professor Alice Roberts
Professor Adam Rutherford
Dr Simon Singh MBE
Professor Fred Spoor
Dr Geertje van Keulen
Mary Whitehouse CSciTeach
Dr James Williams CSciTeach FRSB FLS
Professor Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS FRSL FMedSci
What you can do to help
If you would like to add your name to the call to ‘Teach evolution, not creationism’ in Wales, you can sign our petition to Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams here. Join the fight to ensure that all children, wherever they live in the UK, get the science education they need and deserve without being exposed to poorly evidenced theories and pseudoscience.