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Supply teacher sacked for offering prayer able to return to work

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Olive Jones, a Christian supply teacher from Weston-super-Mare, has been offered the opportunity to return to her old job after North Somerset Council recognised that it can be appropriate for a tutor to share their faith with a pupil or a family, depending on the situation.

Mrs Jones, 54, was dismissed in November 2009 after attending a meeting with her employers who had received a complaint from a parent that Olive had shared her faith with a sick pupil and asked the pupil’s mother whether she could pray for the pupil.

Mrs Jones was devastated at the decision made on 25 November, particularly as she was a highly regarded teacher and enjoyed a good relationship with the pupil and her family. She said that the decision was ‘completely disproportionate’ and that it made her feel as though she had committed a crime.

No formal investigations were undertaken before the meeting to clarify what had happened at the pupil’s home.

As a result of intervention by the Christian Legal Centre and extensive media coverage, the Council arranged to meet Olive in the New Year. On Tuesday 19 January, Olive attended a meeting where she told the Council that she had not been present at a meeting where the family concerned had said that they did not wish to discuss faith matters, and that this information had not been relayed to her by colleagues. Olive therefore had no idea that her offer to pray for the pupil was unacceptable to the family and would result in a complaint.

After hearing that Olive had been unaware of the family’s wishes, the Council affirmed that it valued Olive’s skills and offered her the opportunity to return to work.

Andrea Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “We are delighted with this outcome and that Olive Jones has been offered the opportunity to return back to her old job. Common sense has prevailed and once again the Christian Legal Centre was able to respond to Olive’s situation with legal and media support to ensure that she got a fair hearing. We will continue to support people like Olive, who should never have to face this kind of disproportionate action and discrimination for merely living out their Christian faith.”

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