The new clause 24A says this:
“The Academy Trust shall not make provision in the context of any subject for the teaching, as an evidence-based view or theory, of any view or theory that is contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations.”
Of course, being only in the model funding agreement this only impacts (assuming it is not negotiated away in individual deals) on future free schools. It does not affect any existing free schools.
Notably, it goes further (as far as I am aware) of any similar restriction on the curriculum in maintained schools.
Maintained schools are, however, prohbited from political indoctrination and required to provide a balanced presentation on political issues. That was in issue when the Department circulated copies of Al Gore’s climate change film ‘An inconvenient truth’ which was said in a legal challenge not to be balanced. The model funding agreements for academies and free schools now require those schools to comply with that requirement too (albeit with all the normal issues about enforcement of requirements in the funding agreement). But that was not in place for the older academies.
But anyway, what does this new prohibition, actually mean? Presumably, at the very least, it makes clear that the Department does not think mainstream religions (and religious teaching) are in any way ‘evidence based’ since, if they are, then they too are presumably prohibited.