A NEW row broke out last night over religious teaching at a doomed North-East academy.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan controversially withdrew Government funding for the Durham Free School after a damning Ofsted report last month.

Last night the school was at the centre of another controversy - that it taught creationism as a scientifically valid subject in direct contravention of Government rules.

The Government has banned schools from teaching creationism - that the universe originated from specific acts of divine creation - as evidence-based theory.

However, a science worksheet obtained by The Northern Echo said: "Only Earth has life on it. God has designed the Solar System so that Earth can support life."

Teaching creationism as scientific fact would place the Durham City school in breach of the law and its funding agreement.

A spokeswoman for the school, in Gilesgate, said that the science paper was an "isolated incident" which contravened its policy on science teaching.

"Legitimate concern was raised over this matter as the worksheet was in clear contradiction of the school's policy and practice," she said.

"It was an isolated incident, which the former headteacher dealt with promptly, firmly and appropriately; the worksheet is not used by the school.

"The teacher referred to taught a very limited science timetable as a subsidiary subject, sharing responsibility for teaching some classes focusing on physics and chemistry."

However, the furious parent who passed the science worksheet to The Northern Echo said: "My child brought the worksheet home as homework - it was a re-iteration of what had been taught in class. I was horrified."

The revelation will be a major blow for parents hoping to save DFS from closure.

Emergency meetings of parents and governors were held on Thursday night and trustees are taking legal advice over challenging the closure through the courts via a judicial review.

Five parents were granted a private 20-minute meeting with the Education Secretary when she visited Newcastle yesterday, but failed to change her mind.

Jennifer Denning, whose husband John is DFS chair of governors and whose daughter Naomi is a pupil, said: "We've come away feeling angry and disappointed. She had clearly already made her mind up."

Lisa Goodwin, whose daughter Jessica attends DFS, said: "It was really disappointing. She didn't really take anything of what we said on board."

Earlier, during a visit to Yarm Primary School, Ms Morgan told the Echo she was firmly of the view DFS did not have the capacity to improve.

Ofsted said the school was failing in all areas, but also that it had already begun to improve.

Inspectors were due to return to assess progress on Thursday, but cancelled after Ms Morgan confirmed the closure just hours before.

When contacted by the Echo about the science worksheet, two parents stood by DFS.

Amanda Mould said: "I don't know anything of that lesson. My daughter's doing well at the school. I don't see any problem with her being there."

Helen Constantine added: "My children are so happy there. At the end of the day that's one lesson. All that matters is my children are happy there."