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Richard Dawkins praises Islington headteacher’s evolution assembly

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 January 2016

Tom Sherrington, Headteacher of Highbury Grove School, with two students

Tom Sherrington, Headteacher of Highbury Grove School, with two students

James Robertshaw

Creationism critic and atheist Richard Dawkins has praised an Islington headteacher’s take on the evolution debate.

Tom Sherrington, Headteacher of Highbury Grove School, published a blog post outlining the feedback he’d received from students on his evolution assembly that week.

Taking to twitter Dawkins said: “Any school would be fortunate to have a Head like this. He deals, sensitively but firmly, with brainwashed students.”

Mr Sherrington said: “I’m amazed. He is someone who has a massive following.

“I think more Headteachers should feel confident about talking to students and engaging them in discussion.

“Richard Dawkins is quite controversial and for him to promote the blog is great. I actually think the whole story of evolution is one of the most awe-inspiring stories you can tell.

“As a scientist it’s something that I’m passionate about and think people should share.”

Mr Sherrington said that after Richard Dawkins tweeted the blog to his followers it got 10,000 hits that day.

In his blog he writes: “I think we might do too many peachy moral-orientated assemblies. Sometimes it’s good just to tell students something really very interesting and complicated, without patronising them.

“To me it’s the most important and extraordinary story children should know and understand. The story of evolution, of how we came into existence as Homo sapiens roaming the Earth on a small ball of rock orbiting a star.”

He also outlines the response from fellow students.

“At the end of one of the assemblies, I was met by a delegation. First was a group of Year 10 girls- two Muslims and a Christian.

“I offered that, because the science is real and verifiable, they might need to read their holy books in the context of the time they were written to understand our need for explanations of the world around us.

“In another assembly I saw that a Year 11 Muslim student was getting agitated. At lunch, I called him over for a chat.

“I offered this, in 500 years all Christians and Muslims will have adopted their faith to recognise evolution. He laughed! It was a good discussion. I was trying to engage him in the ideas without dismissing his in a way that would build barriers.”

Mr Sherrington became Headteacher of Highbury Grove School in September 2014 and states in his blog that he’s on a mission to make it one of the best of its kind.


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