Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Academy Denies Claims from Job Candidate

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Academy Denies Claims from Job Candidate

Article excerpt

Byline: Will Sutton

They were asking for a missionary, not a teacher...

A TEACHER applying for a senior job at a Teesside school claims he was confronted by "religious intolerance" at his interview.

Dr Simon Valentine, 48, said he was amazed at the "right wing Christian" approach he found at King's Academy in Coulby Newham.

The school reacted with surprise and refuted his claims of what happened at the interview.

Dr Valentine, a part-time university tutor, applied for the position of head of philosophy, theology and ethics (PTE) at the school, which has a strong Christian ethos.

But instead of being asked about teaching style, he says he was quizzed about his views on birth control and whether he believed in Noah's Ark.

"They were asking for a missionary, not a teacher," said Dr Valentine, himself a Methodist lay preacher.

The school is sponsored by Sir Peter Vardy, head of the Reg Vardy car empire and chairman of the controversial Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

"I had five different interviews from staff and members of the Vardy Trust and they were basically sussing out my views on birth control and the Roman Catholic Church," said Dr Valentine.

"I have to say I was made very welcome when I arrived, but we were being grilled according to our theology rather than our teaching ability.

"They asked me what I believed to be the most important duty as head of PTE.

"I replied by saying how important it was to prepare pupils for state examinations, but I was cut short by a sarcastic and disturbing comment - 'What is the point of sending young people out into the world with 20 GCSEs when they're going to go to Hell?'

"Not surprisingly, to my great relief, I was not offered the job. I know it may appear that this is sour grapes from me but it's not.

"Among other things I was angry that my taxes were financing a school which seemed intolerant and imposing one very narrow religious view on its pupils. …

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