An Eton teacher who was sacked in a row over free speech has attended an appeal hearing chaired by William and Harry’s ex-housemaster that will decide his future at the £42,500-a-year school.
Will 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.
Some figures who initially backed Mr Knowland have since distanced themselves after learning more about the lecture, which included incorrect statistics about rape.
The English teacher also quoted an article saying women wanted to be ‘overwhelmed by the sheer power of masculinity’.
Mr Knowland wore a smart blue suit with a formal dress shirt and white bow tie as he cycled to and from the hearing in the grounds of the £42,500 school this morning.
The English teacher was pictured shortly after noon when he returned to his grace and favour home which he faces losing if his sacking is upheld.
His appeal hearing was chaired by Eton’s vice provost Dr Andrew Gailey who nurtured William and Harry when he was their housemaster at Eton.
Eton teacher Will Knowland, who was sacked in a row over free speech, has attended an appeal hearing chaired by William and Harry’s ex-housemaster that will decide his future at the £42,500-a-year school
The keen weightlifter, made no comment as he arrived back at the large detached house which he shares with his wife Rachel and their five children.
He was seen clutching a sheaf of papers and holding a green face mask in his hand as he walked to his front door of his home in a cul de sac beside the historic school.
Mr Knowland’s sister who was at his house said: ‘We can’t make any comment I’m afraid.’
A spokesperson for Eton also refused to comment about the hearing, or even confirm whether it had taken place.
But sources suggested that the appeal panel which met at the school was not expected to make a decision about Mr Knowland’s future for up to a week.
His appeal hearing was chaired by Eton’s vice provost Dr Andrew Gailey who nurtured William and Harry when he was their housemaster at Eton. Pictured: Dr Gailey with William and Harry and their father Prince Charles in 1996
The row has put Eton at the centre of a storm of protest over its supposedly ‘woke’ values under current headmaster Simon Henderson (pictured)
One source said: ‘We would normally get the result of an appeal panel within seven days. It will most likely be next Monday, possibly Friday.’
In the lecture he appeared to argue sex attacks were overstated by feminists for political reasons, saying ‘rape, is not a unique claim for male oppression of women because male-on-male rape in jails dwarfs male-on-female rapes outside them’.
When challenged on his comment in remarks beneath the video, he stated ‘that the only serious scientific studies ever done on the subject estimate that … 40-60 per cent of rape accusations are false’.
Most experts believe that the proportion of false rape allegations in the UK is no more than 3 to 4 per cent. The FBI puts the level of unfounded reports in the US at 8 per cent.
Sarah Green, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said Mr Knowland was guilty of ‘extremely selective and incorrect use of rape statistics’.
A fundraising appeal set up by Mr Knowland to help pay his legal fees at an employment tribunal if the loss of his job is confirmed, has so far raised more than £59,000 from 1,110 donors in the 11 days since his case became public.
The £60,000 target of the appeal on donorbox.org was recently raised to £100,000 to reflect the growing support he is receiving from many Old Etonians.
Mr Knowland makes no mention of Eton on the fund-raising page, but states he and his family face losing their home.
He says on the page: ‘I have been dismissed from my employment. My wife and I will be made homeless, along with our five children.
‘I am raising money to challenge my dismissal in the Employment Tribunal if necessary.’
Knowland lost his job after challenging so-called modern feminist views about ‘toxic masculinity’ in an online lecture which he prepared for older pupils
An online petition calling for Mr Knowland to be reinstated has now been signed by more than 2,700 current and former pupils as well as other supporters.
One old boy said on the online petition: ‘I regard political correctness and wokeness as an evil which is making a mockery of free speech and attempting to turn the history of this great Country upside down.
‘No respectable educational establishment should have any truck with it, and should resist firmly.’
Another said: ‘I am an Old Etonian from many years back and I remember the free intellectual atmosphere in those days, which sadly seems to have evaporated to the great detriment of the school.’
Old Etonians have lent their support to the English teacher – whose fate could be sealed by the end of the week – as one described ‘political correctness and wokeness as an evil’
The dispute between Mr Knowland and Eton chiefs started after he prepared a controversial online lecture, entitled the Patriarchy Paradox, as part of the school’s Perspectives classes for older pupils to consider different viewpoints.
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.
He has attracted widespread support from current and former pupils ever since with many writing directly to the school to protest and criticising the school’s apparent lurch towards pursuing a ‘woke’ agenda silencing opposing views.
Last week it was revealed that Eton theology teacher Dr Luke Martin had quit his role as head of Perspectives classes in a move seen as a gesture of support for Mr Knowland.
A fundraising appeal set up by Mr Knowland to help pay his legal fees at an employment tribunal if the loss of his job is confirmed, has so far raised more than £59,000 from 1,110 donors in the 11 days since his case became public
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’.
His letter of complaint to vice provost Dr Gailey, warned 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’.
Steven Pinker, an expert in experimental cognitive psychology, had previously backed Mr Knowland, but has now said he ‘wouldn’t have given the full support’ if he had first watched the lecture.
Speaking to the
‘I do think that students should be exposed to controversial views. But the lecture I thought was not sound pedagogy and Eton was right to question it.’
How ‘Trendy Hendy’ is overseeing a woke revolution at Eton
Headmaster Simon Henderson transformed Britain’s most famous school into a place which reflects right-on preoccupations befitting his nickname ‘Trendy Hendy’
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 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.