Sunday 20 December 2009

It's Not All Right Then

Iain Dale led off this morning on the case of a teacher who was sacked/suspended (as Subrosa points out, not clear as yet) for offering to pray for a student. Tom Harris tended to agree that it was an over-reaction, before apologising as he hadn't read Bob Piper's blog.

The original story is here, but a swift rundown would go something like this.

Christian teacher offers to pray for the sick child she was employed to teach. Complaint sent to council leading to sacking/suspension and/or investigation.

Dale was annoyed, Harris was perplexed as to why lefties wouldn't condemn. Bob Piper says it's a storm in a teacup.

Nick Yates, a spokesman for North Somerset Council, said: ‘Olive Jones has worked as a supply teacher, working with the North Somerset Tuition service. A complaint has been made by a parent regarding Olive. This complaint is being investigated.

‘To complete the investigation we need to speak to Olive and we have offered her a number of dates so this can happen. At the moment we are waiting for her to let us know which date is convenient for her.’

I see. So the real scandal here is that an employer has received a complaint from a parent about a teacher... and, disgrace upon disgrace... the employer wants to investigate the complaint, and would like to talk to the teacher concerned.

Well, far be it for me to defend the (Conservative controlled) Council in question from an outburst by one of their own party attack dogs... but that doesn't seem to be entirely unreasonable.

No, no, no. It is bloody unreasonable. For the simple fact that the complaint itself is frivolous and should not be afforded the merest whiff of contemplation.

The real outrage is that we now live in a society whereby a family can be so spineless as to feel 'bullied' by an offer of prayer. That they are incapable of just shrugging it off, ignoring the offer, and carrying on regardless. And, moreover, that they should go out of their way to file an official complaint to the council, on such a trivial matter, towards a person with whom they had previously been friendly enough to allow into their home.

Lastly, that the council, whether they had previously sacked the teacher or not, should be taking such mealy-mouthed, self-important and vindictive people seriously enough to launch an investigation.

Just tell them to grow up and stop being so very pathetic.

Bob Piper is a Labour councillor, so it's perhaps not surprising that his stance is to side with the council (even if it is Tory) in creating a load of paperwork and pointless meetings where none should be required. He reckons that because the woman wasn't sacked, well, that's all right then. It isn't.

It's not bullying. There is nothing threatening here. Just a family, emboldened by the hideous society Labour have created, who can't understand that there are others in this world who live differently to them. So they bleat, and moan, and try to wreck someone else's meagre career. We used to, correctly, ignore such nonsense, but now those who are the most selfish in life are given every outlet for their anti-social, and quite staggering, spite.

If they are strong enough to file a complaint to the council, they are strong enough to firmly tell the teacher that her prayers aren't welcome. Just because the teacher hasn't actually been sacked, yet, does not make it 'all right'.


marksany said...

Hangin's too good fer'em

subrosa said...

Well said Dick. Like you I'm sickened by these people who reject the basic religion of this country and also use it as a stick to beat others.

This should never have reached the media but North Somerset Council do seem to have a very strange interpretation of the new religion Equality and Diversity.

Aren't they lucky I didn't decide to live down there?

Anonymous said...

Yes, offering a prayer to God is now considered an offense. Could we be any further along to the rise of the anti-christ spirit today than we ever were in the past, even during the reign of Hitler, which was the last time around. The whole world has finally gone insane and inviting true disaster of immense proportions when prayer of any sort is considered a punishable crime requiring investigation and government intrusion.

Witterings from Witney said...

Would it be cynical of me, DP, to suggest that the prevalence for complaining might just be the claimants see the opportunity of a little cash in any lawsuit they decide to bring citing their 'hurt feelings'?

And that, to paraphrase your post title, is definitely not bloody right!

john miller said...

It's a bit more far reaching than perhaps you suggest and Mr Yates is being entirely disingenuous.

The normal reaction in schools to any complaint is to suspend the teacher, or classroom assistant or dinnerlady (whoops! dinnerperson) while the matter is being investigated.

This merely encourages frivolous claims. The suspension goes on that person's record and, much like the DNA database, tends to discourage future employers from recruiting a complainee (did I just make that word up?) regardless of the outcome of the investigation.

I have no comment to make on the individual case here, as I don't know enough about it, but the whole system is one of the many reasons why a 12 year old will spit on your shoes as you walk past them, if that's how their whimsy takes them.

SaltedSlug said...

I've little patience with religion, and generally feel that it's inappropriate for people to bring it into the workplace.
That said, atheists who feel they need to complain and cause a hand-flapping scene over something as frivolous and obviously well-intentioned as this really grip my shit; the pompous, self-righteous bint.

And the council should be ashamed of their institutional lack of backbone and contemptible kid-gloves approach to this 'sensitive' issue.

For fuck's sake, everyone's so fucking precious these days.

And I've got a fucking headache, which I'm blaming on them too....cunts

Junican said...

Before I retired, many years ago now, I managed a branch of a Bank. In my job, I had 'Managerial Discretion'. Not only did I have it, but I was expected to exercise it. If a customer complained to me, I was expected to sort it out. There was no way in which I was expected to pass the matter 'upwards'. A complaint that was made to my superiors was passed down to me, and I was expected to sort it out. Occasionally, the complaint went further, in which case, by discussion, a solution was decided upon. I was the Manager, and I did what had to be done with the support of my superiors, in that case. I was then supported by my superiors. I do not recall any instance where this process was unsuccessful.

So what happened to Managerial Discretion? Why do these silly things have to go to the very top?

It seems to me to be further evidence of the infantilisation of every strata of our society, of which you have spoken before, Frank.

How can it be stopped? Which politician will have the courage to speak to the sensible, intelligent majority instead of pandering to the nutters?

Mr A said...

Yup, good points - in the original post and in the comments.

I'm a hardcore atheist and I certainly wouldn't want anyone praying to some sky-fairy on my, or my child's, behalf. But do I feel strongly enough about it to even say anything to the teacher let alone anyone else? Hell no! If it makes her feel better who cares? Her intentions are good, even if misguided.

And as you say, if I WAS bothered by it then I'd take her to one side and explain I don't want God-bothering in my house. That is the furthest I would go - but I'd have to have been having a pretty bad day to even do that.

The people who made the complaint are the sort of infantilised idiots that Labour have encouraged - the sort of people who think the world revolves around them and that everything should be catered according to their whims. The sort who complain about cigarette smoke outside and who return perfectly good food in restaurants in the hope that they'll be offered a free meal.


As much as I disagree with her belief system I hope the teacher takes the Council to Court. Don't we have "Inclusion" legislation to prevent discrimination on grounds of religious belief, or something? Until common sense makes a return to this country she may as well beat the righteous bastards with their own stick.

JuliaM said...

"So what happened to Managerial Discretion? Why do these silly things have to go to the very top?"

What happened to it? Some people made the 'wrong' decisions, of course!

Anonymous said...

North Somerset Council should not only tell the complainant to go away and not be so silly, but should also give her a clip round the ear for being so self-absorbed and emotional. For goodness sake - get a grip !

Dick Puddlecote said...

WfW: You may have a point there.

John Miller: Yep, the whole system does seem set up to encourage complainants. We've lost the balance somewhere and it appears that common sense has gone on a long sabbatical with respect for others.

Salty: "For fuck's sake, everyone's so fucking precious these days."

On the button. One has to wonder if people are to blame, or is such a trait ingrained into them by the way laws and procedures are arranged in the 21st century. I suppose I should point out that I'm not at all religious either, my beef is exactly as yours, that people seem increasingly incapable of seeing past their own lives and respecting the foibles of others.

Mr A: Indeed. And therein lies another problem, because while fighting back is the correct course of action, it merely escalates th enmity in society in the long run. So the choice is either to let these whingers run amok, or do something about it thereby spiralling community downwards. We can't win, it seems.

Tarquin said...

firstly, let me make this clear - I would never be so petty as to whinge to management over such an issue, I'd probably start an argument if a public servant brought such a thing up, but you don't go over someone's head

But I would like to point out there is a theme developing in the media lately - the case of Duke Amachree received a fair bit of publicity and it was said all he did was mention god, it turned out he subjected a cancer patient to a lengthy 'barrage' about god, and encouraged her to watch videos on miracles

all unproven - but these are the actual claims, the mail in particular have been omitting these facts and portraying it as 'oppressing christians' - again, in this case we don't know it was 'trivial', and it's only being investigated by the employer, which has to be done - so the only problem is with the complainant as yet

and some people are just wankers

Mark Wadsworth said...

They are indeed f***ing mental. For this woman to offer to pray for somebody is no more offensive than me telling somebody I'll keep my fingers crossed for them etc.

Anonymous said...

One wonders whether the same complaint would have been made had the supply teacher been disguised as a laundry bag and offered to pray to Allah?

Bob Piper said...

Richard, dear, I'm not siding with the Council, particularly as you point out it is a Tory Council.

My point was that people were slobbering at the mouth about someone being sacked, when their employer quite clearly stated that she had not been sacked. There was a complaint to her employers about something she had done. Other than this woman's explanation, none of us know the details of the complaint.

My stance, it may not surprise people to know, is not in defence of the Council, but that before any action is taken, there should be a full investigation of the facts and due process should be followed. That appears to be what the employers are doing here, in complete compliance with employment law.

It matters not to me whether the god botherer works for a Council or bloody Tesco, there are proper procedures to follow.

Ignorant and ill-informed comments such as Dale's and some people here, based on one side of the story and a shit-stirring piece by the Daily Heil may well be entertaining... but they are also crap.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Bob: No, we don't know the nature of the complaint, but we are told it is 'bullying'. I truly can't see how even the most evangelical of Christians can be accused of bullying by anyone with some sort of spine. Unless she beat them about the head with a bible, of course. ;-)

I did understand your point entirely but, and don't take this personally, your acceptance of a council policy whereby an investigation must be carried out for even the most frivolous of complaints, is not surprising.

It's what councils do. In fact, it's what the public sector has increasingly done since Labour overloaded the system with rubber band flickers and thumb-twiddlers itching for a way of justifying their existence (take it as read that I expect you to disagree with that bit).

The rise of the anonymous complainant is directly attributable to this. It's absurd that we now have to take such intolerant and vindictive people seriously.

I mentioned on another blog tonight how those, who don't like how their career choice is viewed, should perhaps weed out the morons who are giving them a bad name. Councils are jam-packed with the buggers. If there weren't so many idiots at local council level, making a catastrofuck out of a molehill on a regular basis, such stories from the Wail wouldn't gain any traction. They would appear too unbelievable.

The fact that this is taken at face value is testament to the awful situation we are in whereby it is so very believable that such a thing can happen.

I don't believe this is an employment law matter. She was employed, as the council confirm, as a supply teacher so should (if they were on the ball) have been on a zero hours contract, thereby releasing the council from any requirement to provide her with regular work. If the woman was unsuitable, and they believed so, the council could be within its rights not to give her work without explanation. If they are thinking of sacking her, then and only then, is an investigation required, with all the baggage and cost related to it. All at the instigation of someone who, it would appear, is a little bit precious.

Which is what I object to.

Councillors ignore their council taxpayers on a regular basis, why the difference here?

If the parents are that motivated, let them go to the papers and make fools of themselves rather than the council falling on the rather easily-predicted PR fail sword.

But then [tongue in cheek bit coming up], what would they do with the rest of their day? ;-)

Junican said...

To many people, especially we well-brought-up old catholics, it was common for a person, on hearing that a friend or aquaintence has experienced some trouble, to say, "I hope that the problem works out. I will say a prayer for you" It was a common phrase, and, at worst, was merely an expression of sympathy.

In this case, if the complaint was addressed to the Local Authority, it ought to have been passed down to the Head Teacher of the school. He/she ought to have written to the complainant and said, "I have spoken to X and she has assured me that what she said was an expression of sympathy. The phrase she used is a phrase which is used commonly amongst her and her friends to denote sympathy.
The fact of the matter is that she has no real intention of praying for you at all. In fact, she hopes that you rot in hell for the way in which you treat your child. Or, better still, rot in jail"

In which case, what would the compainant have to complain about, since that statement was not made at the time but was made in response to the complaint?

Bob Piper said...

Richard, it is an employment law matter, actually. Of course, as you say, they could simply not offer her any more supply hours, but if she has been accused of bullying a minor, there is an obligation on an employer to carry out an investigation leading, potentially, to dismissal. It has bugger all to do with Councils. It is part of the ACAS guidance in respect of unfair dismissal.

If they terminate this contract (and you don't need 'hours' or a written piece of paper for it to be a contract) without having an investigation or a hearing, whether it be Cadburys, Tesco or North Somerset Council, they will automatically be found guilty of unfair dismissal.

Your gibberish about rubber band flickers doesn't even warrant a serious answer. As for the reference to anonymous complainant - what is that all supposed to be about? There is nothing anonymous about the mother of the child in this case. You are just feeding your own reactionary prejudices.

The fact that the Councillor with responsibility said she has not been sacked, and that you admit you are making judgments on the basis of ignorance, is sufficient to dump you in the Dale camp... slavishly jumping to attention to the right-wing 'political correctness brigade in the Daily Mail.

JuliaM said...

"It matters not to me whether the god botherer works for..."

You know, as Henry Crun points out, you never hear the left refer disparagingly to an 'Allah botherer', do you?

Just saying...

JuliaM said...

"There is nothing anonymous about the mother of the child in this case."

What's her name then? I've seen several reports on this story, and none has named her.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Sorry, late seeing this, Bob.

You seem to have misunderstood me. It's not a matter of employment law simply because that shouldn't come into the equation. If the family didn't want that particular teacher, the council aren't obliged to send her there.

As I said, the issue only arises if they were thinking of sacking her. I put forward the idea that such a thing shouldn't even be on the radar.

The problem with councils is that they are full of 'procedures' and procedures tend to eradicate the need for common sense in many cases. I'd put this one in that category.

You say that you don't understand the 'anonymous complainant' bit. Well, if councils are loaded up with procedures, perhaps this could explain the fact that a fair chunk of the Daily Mail's content these days is filled with councils doing rather silly things at the behest of spiteful, anti-social morons who reach for the phone instead of just shrugging and accepting that others wish to live different lives to their own. It's kinda the thrust of my article, I think you'll agree.

As for rubber band flickers, you forgot to mention the thumb-twiddlers. They should have equality in this discussion, I think. Come on mate, you can't tell me that your council doesn't have them (I know you can't say it publicly, but ...)

My view is not reactionary prejudice, but rather personal experience over more than a decade as an employer. We even have a clause in our contract to handle council overreaction. It is regularly used.

For example, this year one of our employees was barred from working on one of our concil contracts after an 'anonymous complainant' (just one) put their oar in.

The employee was immediately suspended by us without pay - we had no choice. We, and the employee, were not afforded details of the complaint, not allowed to have input into the investigation, nor know the identity of the complainant. The investigation lasted 2 months, during which time our employee wasn't paid and we were left with committed overheads but no payment either. The complaint subsequently turned out to be made by a woman on behalf of a 6 year old kid who, as it turned out, was seeing something quite normal but who was too young to understand.

But procedures overruled common sense as council staff went into overdrive after months of being bored doing office collections and collecting a payslip for doing sod all.

Everyone lost. The employee, our company, the taxpayer, and for what? We aren't allowed to sue as we're not allowed to know the idiot who made the complaint, nor is the person who now has a noted complaint against her name and has lost 2 months money.

This isn't a singular incident, it happens all the time, and not one complaint in over 10 years has been anything less than frivolous and without basis.

Yet the council will continue to emtertain such guff.

As for your denouement, I admit I don't know everything of the case, but have commented on the details as they are currently known. By that logic, you must also be commenting on the basis of ignorance. Or are you somehow excused as you are a councillor?