Creationist row head to run second school

28th March 2003 at 00:00
A new technology college backed by an evangelist may face battles over religion. Michael Shaw reports

THE head of a school that teaches a biblical approach to evolution has been put in charge of a second school by its evangelical backer.

Nigel McQuoid, principal of Emmanuel city technology college in Gateshead, will now also run The King's Academy, Middlesbrough, due to open in September.

He said King's would share Emmanuel's approach of teaching the Christian view of creation but also the scientific one, and would not insist one was right.

Emmanuel was criticised by scientists last year after The TES revealed teachers taught biblical theories of creation alongside evolution. But the CTC, where 99 per cent of pupils gained five or more top-grade GCSEs last year, was defended by Tony Blair, and the Office for Standards in Education found no fault with its approach.

Emmanuel and King's have received funding of pound;2 million from the Vardy Foundation, run by the evangelist Sir Peter Vardy.

Sir Peter is planning to fund another five academies in the North-west and said he would consider more mixing and matching of senior staff as the foundation's portfolio of schools expands. A handful of key staff from Emmanuel have already gained posts at King's, including a head of science and vice principal. But most staff will come from two closing schools which the academy is set to replace.

One teacher said staff were surprised by Emmanuel's role in King's as they had been assured by Middlesbrough Council that the two schools would be separate.

One employee said: "We've had Emmanuel's schemes of work rammed down our throat since December. Prayers in tutor groups based on a bible extract chosen by the Vardy Foundation will be a daily requirement - have Muslim or atheist parents been informed?"

But Mr McQuoid denied teachers at King's were being made to use Emmanuel's work schemes and said they had merely been offered as examples.

He said prayers would be held in tutor groups to meet the national requirement for a daily act of worship. Teachers, he said, would soon realise that the Vardy schools were open to all faiths and did not want to turn staff into "nutter evangelical whackos".

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