Creationist views 'risk going unchallenged in schools' due to counter-terror measures, headteacher says

Headteacher Tom Sherrington says the Prevent strategy is making it harder challenge elements of the Muslim faith

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The Independent Online

The Government’s counter-terrorism strategy has been blamed for making teachers “hypersensitive” when it comes to challenges elements of the Muslim faith and teaching evolution. 

London headteacher Tom Sherrington said schools could shy away from teaching Charles Darwin’s seminal scientific theory to avoid “provoking a reaction” from their pupils with creationist views. 

He said the Prevent programme has “added to the sense that your treat Muslims as different” and the strategy “makes any engagement directly questioning the faith position of Muslim students more challenging”. 

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Sherrington - who has run Highbury Grove School in Islington since September 2014 - said schools should be inclusive communities where "science should be promoted as science".  

He said: "Students will say they don’t believe in the science because it’s not what they are being told through engagement with their faith. That’s a very sensitive issue for teachers to handle.

"I think it would be awful if teachers said that it’s just not worth doing. It’s easier to keep it sweet, it’s easier to avoid that conflict... That would be a mistake.

"It would be a big mistake for science teachers to teach evolution any differently, just because of this fear of alienating Muslim students through Prevent approaches."

He said he has come across teachers who have said they were creationists: "For teachers to be questioning the validity of evolution versus the Bible I think is appalling, and shows that they don’t really understand science.

"I think it’s important to be open about what you are going to teach and schools should be saying that they teach evolution as a fact, because it is."

It comes as an investigation by the British Humanist Association in May last year found that only 14 of the 91 schools teaching creationism in the UK had their funding removed despite a pledge by the Government to crack down on them.