Marc Glendening of the Institute of Economic Affairs has asked local MPs and councillors whether they plan to support the teacher’s reinstatement
The recent controversy over the suspension of a teacher for showing a cartoon image of the Prophet Muhammed to a religious studies class at Batley Grammar School has focused on the question of free speech.
What has been largely absent, however, from the exchange of opinion, has been a concern for the rights of the individual concerned regarding his contract of employment.
At no point, to date, has the headmaster Gary Kibble claimed that the teacher in conducting the class in question in the manner he did broke his terms of employment. So on what legal, as well as moral, basis was he told to stay away from the school?
The Cultural Affairs Programme at the IEA in seeking to draw attention to this issue, has written to the local MP, Tracy Brabin, local councillors, as well as MPs from the neighbouring constituencies, to ascertain where they stand in relation to the call by some of the school’s pupils for him to be reinstated.
The teacher might have expected his MP to support his right to remain in post unless and until it was shown that he had indeed broken his terms of employment, says Marc Glendening of the IEA. The MP concerned issued a statement supporting the school’s decision to apologise for the showing of the image but made no reference to the question of his rights.
In a letter sent to Tracy Brabin a number of questions are put. Among them are:
- Does she now believe it was, or was not, right for the school to suspend the teacher from his duties?
- If, on the other hand, she does not believe he violated his contract of employment, will she now publicly call for his immediate reinstatement and will she add her name to the online petition (which at the time of writing had received close to 70,000 signatures) supporting this?
Marc Glendening, Head of Cultural Affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“It is currently unclear on what grounds the teacher in question was suspended. In the absence of any breaches of his employment contract, the failure to reinstate him raises serious concerns over freedom of expression not just for those in the teaching profession, but for younger generations and our society more widely.
“Tracy Brabin has not only refused, thus far, to defend the rights of one of her constituents, but has expressed support for the school’s recognition of the incident as ‘inappropriate’ and its decision to issue an apology.
“By responding to our letter, Ms Brabin can give her backing to the reinstatement of the teacher. I hope the MP will, with local councillors and the MPs who represent neighbouring constituencies, consider lending her support.”