A BAN on teaching creationism in schools has been rejected by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) criticised the response to its petition with the Scottish Parliament calling for new government guidance on the issue in publicly funded schools.

The society believes schools should not be allowed to present the belief that the universe originates from acts of divine creation as a viable alternative to established science.

The SSS petition was lodged after it emerged members of a US pro-creationist religious sect had been working as classroom assistants at a primary school in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire.

In England and Wales, the teaching of creationism as scientific theories is prohibited in schools.

Tim Simons, Head of Curriculum Unit at the Scottish Government's Learning Directorate, has written to the parliament's petitions committee that there are no plans to introduce ban guidance called for by the SSS.

Mr Simmons said: "I can (therefore) confirm that there are no plans to issue guidance to schools or education authorities to prevent the presentation of creationism, intelligent design or similar doctrines by teachers or school visitors.

"The evidence available suggests that guidance on these matters is unnecessary.

"However, Education Scotland will continue to monitor, through the school inspection process and by other means, any instances where schools are not ensuring the teaching of science is based on well-established science and scientific principles."

He added: "I can confirm that there are a number of policies and safeguards in place to ensure that children and young people receive a broad and balanced general education.

"Safeguards include; school managers having oversight of curriculum planning and resources; local authorities with robust complaints procedures, independent school inspections and the development of curriculum materials through a collegiate approach that provides for early identification of any inappropriate material."

The SSS said it is "deeply disappointed by the Scottish Government's response to evidence presented to the Public Petitions Committee".

Spencer Fildes, Chair of the SSS responded to the submission: "The Scottish Government has responded with what they claim are workable 'safeguards' that are already in place, yet we have presented clear evidence to the contrary.

"This is exactly why we felt it was necessary to petition the government in the first place.

"The government's submission is not only disappointing but at the same time short sighted and evasive, and fails to recognise the issue.

"It would seem they are willing to openly endorse the teaching and discussion of creationism in what they call 'context' but are unwilling to explicitly state it is forbidden even in the science class.

"The fear is that creationists will now use the government's position to further validate the cause of creationism, young earth doctrines and the pseudo-science of intelligent design.

"Creationism should not be taught as fact anywhere within the Scottish education system."

Professor Paul Braterman, co-petitioner, said: "This language blurs the crucial distinction, built into the wording of our own petition, between learning about creationist worldviews, and being taught that such worldviews are tenable.

"The SSS fear this will bring Scottish education into disrepute."