Education Secretary hits back over faith-based academies
Children at Tony Blair's city academies are not taught Creationism or forced to dress up as "McDonald's burgers", Education Secretary Alan Johnson has said.
Mr Johnson dismissed as "myths" allegations which have been made about the academy scheme.
Visiting schools for the first time since being given his new job in the Prime Minister's reshuffle, he insisted the "cash for honours" row had not damaged the academies policy.
Last week, Alan Johnson, appointed to succeed Ruth Kelly, came under pressure on the contested question of faith schools and privately-funded city academies.
Mr Johnson said he could "understand" the concerns critics have over the scheme if they were based on "some of the myths that people come in and dress the kids up as McDonald's burgers or teach Creationism".
"That just cannot happen. These are schools who are teaching in accordance with the national curriculum."
However, concerns about the impact of faith-based schools, especially fundamentalist ones, have recently been expressed by two major teaching unions in the light of the UK Labour governmentís controversial education reforms.
Mixed exam results and several poor Ofsted reports have also damaged the scheme's reputation and led one charity to advise potential sponsors to think again.
And police launched an investigation into claims that honours and peerages were offered to rich business figures in exchange for agreeing to sponsor academies.
Many Labour backbench MPs and teachers' unions are deeply sceptical about the involvement of private business figures in running academies.
The programme has also been hit by criticism that some schools are too strongly focused on certain types of Christian teaching.
The scheme was set up to transform education in England's poorest inner city areas.