Head denies suspending Christian assistant over beliefs

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image captionKristie Higgs was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire

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.css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}A head teacher has denied suspending a Christian school assistant who posted her concerns about teaching LGBT relationships to young children.

Kristie Higgs, 44, was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire, last year after sharing two Facebook posts.

At the employment tribunal in Bristol, she claims her sacking breached her freedom of speech and religion.

Mrs Higgs’ case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

The posts raised concerns about relationship education at her son’s Church of England primary school, which was to teach the No Outsiders in Our School programme.

In one, she urged people to sign an online petition against making relationships education mandatory and in another, she shared an article about the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in American schools.

“I was concerned that a lot of parents all over the country and the world simply did not know what was going on,” Mrs Higgs said in a statement submitted to the tribunal.

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‘Confidence in the school’

The school received an anonymous complaint in October 2018 and the pastoral assistant was subsequently suspended. Following a disciplinary process she was then sacked.

Head teacher Matthew Evans told the employment tribunal his priority after receiving the complaint was to uphold “confidence” in the school.

He told the hearing they had kept the complainant’s identity confidential as they would have been known to Mrs Higgs and he had asked the school’s business manager to investigate.

“It was not because of the beliefs. These posts have been shared and apparently endorsed and my concern was that might lead to a loss of confidence in the school.

“I think it was important to establish the reasons why Mrs Higgs had shared these posts and upon reflection whether she thinks whether that was a wise thing to do.”

Pavel Stroilov, representing Mrs Higgs, asked Mr Evans whether by making that post she had been “expressing her right to free speech”.

Mr Evans replied: “I accept that you have the right to say what you believe in public or private location. I didn’t know enough about her religious beliefs to know what she was expressing.”

The case continues.

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