An exam board has scrapped a GCSE biology question about creationism after admitting it could be misleading. The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance paper asked pupils how the Bible’s theory of creation seeks to explain the origins of life. AQA stressed that pupils taking its biology GCSE were not required to study creationism as a scientific theory.
But it admitted that describing it as a “theory” could be misleading, and said it would review the wording of papers. The review was prompted by a complaint from teachers and a university lecturer.
In a statement, AQA said: "Merely asking a question about creationism and intelligent design does not imply support for these ideas. “Neither idea is included in our specification and AQA does not support the teaching of these ideas as scientific.”
Nonetheless, the candidates were expected to have some understanding of it.
A spokeswoman explained that pupils had been asked to match up several theories, including the Biblical theory of creation, with descriptions of them. She said pupils were not taught creationism as a valid scientific theory but that it would be strange not to mention it when discussing Darwinism.
AQA added: "The use of the term ‘theory’ was intended in its common, everyday sense.
“However, we accept that in the context of a science examination this could be misleading and we will be addressing this issue for any future questions.”
The row over whether creationism has a place in the science classroom has been debated for some time. Last year, this issue led to the resignation of Professor Michael Reiss as director of education at the Royal Society. Department for Children, Schools and Families advises that creationism is tackled in religious education classes but not as part of a science syllabus.