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Calls for probe into creationist physics teacher

A PARENT has called for action to be taken by a school after a teacher allegedly told a science class evolution was "not proven".

Adrian Smales?? daughter was told in class evolution is unproven
Adrian Smales?? daughter was told in class evolution is unproven

Adrian Smales says he was shocked when his daughter told him the assertion was made during an S3 physics class at Lasswade High School in Midlothian.

During a discussion on the Big Bang - the scientific theory explaining the origins of the universe - pupils were also said to have been told by teacher Leonard Rogers that people must stop putting their faith in things that cannot be proven.

When Smales complained to the school, a response from the ­headteacher confirmed that Rogers "did state he held strong creationist opinions to [the] class".

Education chiefs launched an investigation earlier this month after it emerged that members of a US pro-creationist Christian ­religious sect, the West Mains Church of Christ, had been working as classroom assistants for eight years at Kirktonholme Primary in East Kilbride.

Smales said: "I have no problem if they discuss [creationism] as part of candid religious dialogue to say these are other views in the world. But in a physics class he is supposed to be teaching mainstream education. It is not based in true, verifiable fact, which is what you are supposed to teach at S3 level."

When Smales, 44, a PhD researcher in biomedical informatics who formerly headed the Natural History Museum's IT department, complained to the school earlier this month, he was sent a response by headteacher Alan Williamson.

The email, seen by the Sunday Herald, notes that "rather bizarrely Mr Rogers did state that he was a Christian and held strong creationist opinions to [the daughter's] class".

Williamson added: "I'm dismayed that this is the case."

He went on to write that Rogers would be told he should not be discussing these matters with pupils and should be teaching from an impartial viewpoint. However, Smales, who is due to meet with the headteacher tomorrow to discuss the issue, said he was unhappy that further action had not been taken.

He wants an investigation into the extent to which Rogers, who has worked at the school for 27 years, may have been discussing creationist views in other science classes.

"My daughter has also been given no remedial education to correct what they have been told," he added.

"So the school has left the situation whereby all of these impressionable youngsters have taken on board the erroneous material he has told them and the school is doing nothing to correct it."

Midlothian Council said there had been no previous complaints or concerns raised about the issue. However, Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, said: "I do think it's an issue that needs properly looked at by all the relevant authorities, otherwise trust in our school system risks being eroded."

Caroline Lynch, chair of the Scottish Secular Society, said: "Matters of religious belief should not be discussed outside a religious observance or education context - it has no place in a science class."

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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