The DfE would not comment on individual applications, but in a statement said: “Ministers will want to satisfy themselves that the proposers are suitable people to be involved in setting up a school and that the curriculum is acceptable to them. We would not expect creationism and intelligent design to form part of any science curriculum developed by any state funded school that has the freedom to develop their own curriculum. Similarly, we would expect to see evolution and its foundation topics fully included in any such science curriculum.”
There is clearly no conspiracy. Michael Gove does not want state-funded schools in the hands of extremists – if not for the sake of children’s rights, then to avoid a PR disaster. The question is whether officials have the time and expertise to root such groups out, particularly those that are willing to conceal their true motivations. The irony is – as the Swedish experience has demonstrated – that by making the free school programme so accessible, Mr Gove may actually be putting his treasured policy at risk.