Eton teacher breaks silence to say college was 'backed into a corner'

EXCLUSIVE – ‘I’m disappointed but not surprised’: Eton teacher breaks silence to say college was ‘backed into a corner’ after upholding decision to sack him over ‘toxic masculinity’ lecture row

  • Will Knowland spoke out just hours after an appeal panel backed his dismissal
  • Sacked English teacher told MailOnline: ‘I am disappointed, but not surprised’
  • Went on to claim it was inevitable that appeal hearing would rule against him 

The Eton teacher who lost an appeal against his sacking in a free speech row today admitted he was ‘disappointed’ by the decision.

Will Knowland spoke out just hours after an appeal panel chaired by Prince William and Prince Harry’s former housemaster at the school ruled that his dismissal was justified.

As he walked his bull mastiff on the nearly deserted streets of Eton, he told MailOnline: ‘I am disappointed, but not surprised.’

Mr Knowland went on to claim that he believed it was inevitable that the appeal hearing held at the school yesterday would find against him.

Will Knowland spoke out just hours after an appeal panel chaired by Prince William and Prince Harry’s former housemaster at the school ruled that his dismissal was justified. He is pictured today 

In an exclusive interview, he said: ‘They were backed into a corner really and they were never going to go anywhere else. It’s one of those things.’

The English teacher who is married with five children now faces having to give up his grace and favour house which is owned by 580-year-old Eton College, and is in a cul-de-sac next to the school.

But he added: ‘We will be around for a little bit longer and then I have got various options. We will be alright.’

MailOnline can also reveal that the teacher has a private tutoring service, Knowland Knows, which offers ‘bespoke’ English lessons to individuals and groups. 

Mr Knowland lost his job after challenging so-called modern feminist views about ‘toxic masculinity’ in an online lecture which he prepared for older pupils.

His dismissal for reportedly refusing to take down his lecture from his personal YouTube channel has put the school at the centre of a storm of protest over its supposedly ‘woke’ values under current headmaster Simon Henderson.

Mr Knowland said he was taking legal advice from his solicitor about his contract of employment in Eton and a clause which suggested he could not talk publicly about his time at the £42,500-a-year school.

He added: ‘I think he (my solicitor) is figuring a few things out today in terms of where it stands with the contract.

‘The Eton one is quite unusual in that it covers you after you leave. It is just really, really broad. The guy is looking at the documents this morning.’

Eton headmaster Simon Henderson, who took over the role five years ago and has been nicknamed ‘Trendy Hendy’ by pupils 

Eton’s headmaster Simon Henderson wrote to parents of pupils last night to defend the school’s treatment of Mr Knowland.

He reportedly told parents that it has been ‘frustrating’ that an employment dispute has ‘played out in the public domain’.

He added: ‘It has been suggested by some that intellectual freedom is somehow being compromised within Eton. It is not.

‘This is such a rewarding place to work precisely because there is such plurality of thought amongst boys and staff.

How ‘Trendy Hendy’ is overseeing a woke revolution at Eton 

Simon Henderson took over his role as Eton College headmaster five years ago and was nicknamed ‘Trendy Hendy’ by pupils.

He is said to have a habit of wearing chino trousers and open-necked shirts, overseeing what has been viewed as a cultural change at the famous school.

Mr Henderson once suggested he might get rid of Eton’s traditional tailcoats and is known to be interested by modern management techniques.

In 2016, he announced plans to split Eton’s deputy head-master role into two, creating one deputy head for ‘academic’ affairs and another for ‘pastoral’ matters.

He has also created a new role of ‘director of inclusion education’ to oversee diversity at Eton, and made a woman the Lower Master, or deputy head, for the first time.

A source has told the Daily Telegraph that Mr Henderson ‘feels strongly’ about changing perceptions of Eton as an ‘old fashioned pillar of social and male elitism’.

The school has pointed out that the decision to sack Mr Knowland was taken by a disciplinary panel that the headmaster doesn’t sit on. 

‘This is to be celebrated and lies at the heart of the liberal education in which we passionately believe.

‘However, as in any school, there are limits to the freedoms that teachers have and there are professional obligations that must be respected.’

Mr Henderson said in his letter that there now had to be a period of reflection, and urged parents and staff to ‘move forward together for the benefit of the boys’.

But he reportedly added that the school needed to ‘consider how we continue to maintain a positive dialogue between those who hold opposing views’.

The Free Speech Union which has been vocal in its support for Mr Knowland, said he intended to refer Eton’s trustees to the Charity Commission and the Attorney General.

His complaint will accuse school bosses of ‘failing to discharge their duty to protect Eton’s reputation and to ensure it is pursuing its charitable object, which is to advance education for the benefit of its students’.

Mr Knowland previously indicated to supporters that he would be taking the school to an employment tribunal if his appeal was dismissed.

He has so far crowdfunded more than £61,000 from 1,143 doors for potential legal fees.

Mr Knowland has also told his supporters that he may seek an Act of Parliament to reinstate him, using obscure legislation that has not been used in more than 20 years.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Free Speech Union would lobby MPs to amend the Equality Act 2010 as a result of Mr Knowland’s treatment.

General secretary Toby Young added: ‘The Act was never intended to prohibit teachers from introducing their students to a broad range of different perspectives on controversial topics, such as sex and gender.

‘We will be asking an MP who is in favour of free speech to bring forward a bill amending the Equality Act so it cannot be used in future as an excuse to censor dissent from Left-wing dogma in schools, as it has been in this case.

‘We will ask an MP to bring a bill amending the Equality Act so it cannot be used to censor dissent’

The dispute between Mr Knowland and Eton chiefs started after he prepared a controversial online lecture which questioned ‘current radical feminist orthodoxy’.

Mr Knowland – seen in a social media photo – was sacked over a controversial lecture on gender roles intended for one of these lessons

His lecture entitled the Patriarchy Paradox, was meant to be part of the school’s Perspectives classes for older pupils to consider different viewpoints.

But he was refused permission to screen it directly to pupils after concerns were raised about its content which included incorrect statistics about rape and suggesting women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’.

Mr Knowland responded by posting the video on his personal YouTube site, and was fired after he repeatedly refused to take it down.

Mr Knowland (seen today ) claimed it was inevitable that the appeal hearing held at the school yesterday would find against him

He attracted widespread support from current and former pupils ever since with many writing directly to the school to protest, and criticising the Etons apparent lurch towards pursuing a ‘woke’ agenda silencing opposing views.

Eton theology teacher Dr Luke Martin had quit his role as head of Perspectives classes in a move seen as a gesture or support for Mr Knowland.

Dr Martin who is still at the school accused Mr Henderson of presiding over an atmosphere where deviations from conventional thinking could lead to mockery or ‘formal discipline’.

He wrote a letter of complaint, warning that pupils were being forced to adopt a ‘so-called progressive’ ideology that pretended to be ‘inclusive, tolerant and kind’ but was akin to ‘religious fundamentalism’.

Many Old Etonians were outraged after Eton’s provost Lord Waldegrave alleged earlier this month that that there had been a ‘false narrative’ in reporting Mr Knowland’s case

The peer who was due to chair Mr Knowland’s appeal hearing was accused of being biased after claiming his dismissal was due to him refusing to accept ‘internal discipline’

He reportedly stood down from the appeal hearing amid the protests about his comments leaving it to be chaired by vice provost Dr Andrew Gailey who helped nurture Harry and William when he was their housemaster during their time at Eton.  

Video lesson about death of ‘chivalry and honour’ that got English teacher sacked and sparked freedom of speech row

A video of the lecture made by an Eton College teacher at the centre of a freedom of speech row has been posted on Youtube.

Will Knowland, an English teacher, had wanted to deliver a questionable lecture to boys in which he cited incorrect statistics about rape and approvingly quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’. 

In the lecture, named ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’, he claimed the male role as a ‘protector’ benefits society as a whole – including women.

And he warned that ‘shaping men and women to be more similar actually exaggerates their differences’ – which he described as the Patriarchy Paradox.

He says that a world without men would be ‘awful’ for women and complains that chivalry and honour – which he labelled as good male qualities – are being driven down by terms such as ‘toxic masculinity’.

The virtual lecture, which was never actually shown to students at the £42,500-a-year- school in Berkshire, resulted in Mr Knowland being sacked from his job. 

Mr Knowland’s lecture The Patriarchy Paradox explores the conflict between the concepts of sex and gender.

He argues that the ‘shaping of men and women to be more similar actually exaggerates their differences’.

Mr Knowland argues that the idea of patriarchy – a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership – could be equally grounded in biology, rather than something that is constructed socially.

And he says some women may actually chose the traditional gender roles because it benefits them.

Mr Knowland points out that male roles in the animal kingdom, including those of the lion, are primarily to provide protection.

Mr Knowland, an English teacher, had wanted to deliver a questionable lecture to boys in which he cited incorrect statistics about rape and approvingly quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’ 

As a result, he says men have traditionally been the sex to fight wars – pointing to the difference in the development of male and female bodies in adolescence.

He points to a cage-fighting match-up involving transgender fighter Fallon Fox, who broke the skull of female opponent Tamika Brent when the pair fought in the Octagon.

He says: ‘If it is not fair to pit men and women in sports, then it is not fair to pit men against women on the battlefield.’

He says men’s lives are also more expendable because women are the ones who are able to give birth. However he says that a world without men would be ‘awful’ for women.

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