BHA responds to draft primary national curriculum for science
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today submitted a wide-ranging response to the Department for Education’s (DfE) draft primary national curriculum for science. The response welcomes the inclusion of evolution in the curriculum for the first time, something the BHA has long-campaigned for, and support for teaching the scientific method. However, the BHA believes more needs to be said on pseudoscience and sex education.
Taking each of the four topics in turn, the BHA’s response says:
• Evolution: We very much welcome the inclusion of sections on evolution for the first time. Scientists and educational experts tell us that evolution is such a core topic in biology that it should be taught at this stage, and not from year ten, as is currently the case.
• Pseudoscience: We would be concerned about any school teaching creationism or pseudoscience in any subject. With the Government’s de facto withdrawal of its guidance on creationism and intelligent design, we would welcome additions to the science curriculum to make it clear that such teaching is unacceptable.
• Sex education: We are concerned that the proposed sex education elements of the curriculum are insufficient to meet pupils’ needs, and in fact actively discourage adequate education in this area. It is vital that sex education is age appropriate, but we believe that by year six, pupils should understand the basics of anatomy, puberty and sexual reproduction. It is important that pupils are equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with the changes brought on by puberty, prior to puberty occurring.
• Scientific method: We welcome the support for teaching the scientific method in the aims, and the presence of the ‘Working scientifically’ sections. However, we believe that the application of these sections needs to be better reflected in the other sections. We also believe that there needs to be more on why science works, as well as how.
BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘In some areas, such as evolution and the scientific method, this curriculum represents a large step forward, and we very much welcome that. However, we are concerned that more needs to be done to prevent the teaching of pseudoscience, and the national curriculum seems like the place to do it.
‘Furthermore, we are concerned that primary sex education remains inadequate in preparing young people for the challenges that lie ahead, and so would want more teaching on anatomy, puberty and reproduction. We are concerned that this is not occurring due to fear mongering by an unrepresentative lobby whose ideological opposition is out of step with the evidence presented by UNESCO and elsewhere.’