A piece in today’s Times:
The teacher dismissed from Eton over an anti-feminist video could be banned from teaching permanently after the school referred him to the watchdog.
Will Knowland, 35, will learn from the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) whether he has a case to answer. It can impose a lifetime ban.
At the time of the sacking in November, Eton wrote to the TRA urging it not to ban him. Guidelines for referral state: “A referral is appropriate if the alleged misconduct is so serious that it warrants a decision on whether the teacher should be prevented from teaching.”
Knowland’s removal led to anger among present and former pupils. He says that Conservative ministers have written to him in support.
Lord Bellingham, a Conservative former minister who chairs a club of 45 Old Etonians who have put plans to give £2 million on hold because of their disquiet at the dismissal, said that the referral by the school was “vindicative”. (sic)
Bellingham said: “He doesn’t want to spend the next year fighting legal action, he just wants his job back. I’ve been pushing the school very hard to find a compromise here because I think everyone needs to take a step back and have a period of reflection on this. It would appear to me from the calls I’ve taken that there’s a lot of support for him among the staff, parents and pupils.”
Knowland was dismissed after he refused to remove a video from YouTube of a lecture in which he attacked “radical feminist orthodoxy” and celebrated traditional aspects of masculinity. He was criticised for views he expressed in the lecture, including that women “prefer the smell of dominant males when at peak fertility than at other times during their menstrual cycle”. He said it was part of a course for Year 12 boys who are encouraged to disagree with material put before them. In the referral, seen by The Times, the school said it sought advice from an independent barrister who advised that the video breached the Equality Act. Knowland has claimed that legal advice the school received before his dismissal said he had not broken the act.
He told The Times: “It would be a big blow to lose my vocation for life and have to retrain in another field as a result of the head master’s decision. I am disappointed that the referral failed to include my willingness to take down the video if the school would provide a reason, and instead repeated unfounded references to the Equality Act. I hope my unblemished disciplinary record and excellent academic results are taken into account as they reach their decision.”
On Saturday The Times revealed that Knowland was taking the school to an employment tribunal for discrimination. The married father of five said that he was also considering a defamation suit against Simon Henderson, the head master, as well as Eton’s provost, Lord Waldegrave of North Hill. Knowland claimed that Henderson “insinuated there might be something else” to his dismissal. The school denied the claims and said that the sacking was entirely because of his refusal to remove the video.
A letter to Waldegrave written by some pupils and countersigned by more than 3,000 people with links to the school has demanded Knowland’s reinstatement.
Eton said: “Mr Knowland’s dismissal met the criteria which required referral to the Teaching Regulation Agency. The school wrote separately to the TRA explaining that it does not wish him to be barred from teaching. However, this is for the TRA to decide.”
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