Forward thinking!

A Deeside teacher has scooped a national award this month as ‘UK and Ireland Young Thinker of the Year 2011.’

Thom Sherrington, a history teacher at Aboyne Academy, qualified for the event after winning the title of ‘Scottish Schools Young Thinker of the Year’ at an event in Dundee last summer.

The annual competition, which was held in Lancaster on Tuesday, January 15, attracted a strong field of entries from across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Thom, 24, said: “I’m delighted with the result. During both competitions I found the process of choosing a topic, researching and writing my paper and then presenting it to a panel of judges to be very challenging and rewarding.

“The standard of presentations was very high and I still can’t believe I have won. I’d like to thank my school for nominating me and the ‘Young Programme’ who organised the event.

“It’s an honour to win the national title and it is great to be recognised as both the UK and Ireland winner as well as in Scotland.

“The medal I received is named after Richard Wild, a young journalist who was killed in Iraq. It is an incredible honour to receive it.”

For this year’s competition Thom had to submit a paper on a topic of his choice and then present it to an audience and panel of judges and discussed ‘Does Britain value thought?’ The competition included eight other winners of regional Young Thinker competitions from around the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Entrants also came from organisations such as the Home Office, OFSTED, Natural England, the Irish Civil Service, the National Health Service and Learning Teaching Scotland.

Thom’s paper was described by the judges as: “A piece of mature thinking on thought itself, challenging the tabloid values of the age and questioning whether we value independent thought sufficiently. It was ultimately moving in its advocacy of education.”

Raymond Jowett, Rector at Aboyne Academy said: “The whole school is very proud of Thom. I know what a lot of hard work and preparation he put into both the Scottish and the UK events. He is a very deserving winner.”

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee, Richard Stroud, said: “This is a fantastic result for Thom and it’s great to hear about his success. A lot of work will have gone into winning not only the Scottish event but also the UK and Ireland final.

“Pupils at Aboyne Academy should be especially proud of Thom and his success will hopefully inspire young people to aim for the very highest of standards both inside and outside of school.”

Vice-chairwoman of the committee, Isobel Davidson, added: “Thom is to be commended for all of the hard work. His success is the latest award for the authority and is further proof that Aberdeenshire Council has some very talented and resourceful employees.”