From next year, pupils in Year Six will be grappling with topics of creation and, in a special event to help prepare both staff and students, the University of Reading has been putting them to the test.

Academics at the university’s London Road campus welcomed more than 300 children from 11 different schools around Reading to a day of special lectures and fun activities to make the question of where we all come from more approachable.

Dr Berry Billingsley, of the Institute of Education, said: “Our project has been going on for about five years, looking at how secondary schools deal with these tricky science and religion topics.

“But now that evolution has been added to the primary curriculum, we wanted to see how those children deal with these questions.

“Children aren’t digging up fossils to test these theories, so they have to listen to voices of authority which includes parents, teachers, peers and the media.”

In an effort to open children’s minds, a series of workshops were held including a washing line of time to see whether they think that Biblical accounts are at odds with geological evidence.

Dr Billingsley said: “We are not trying to offer them a choice between two opposing opinions, we want to give them different accounts of what happened and ask whether they think they are compatible ideas.

“The excitement for us is to hopefully see students grappling with these topics.

“The questions that children ask are such fun — but if teachers are not prepared, they can end up just turning them to their parents.”

The day’s events were led by the LASAR (Learning About Science And Religion) project which seeks to challenge the way that science and religion must be taught as opposites.