Applicant says he was wrong sex

7th February 2003 at 00:00
Headteacher denies claims of discrimination against prospective male primary teacher. Elwyn Roberts reports

Bob English claims he was sexually discriminated against when he applied for his first teaching job - because he is a man.

The 39-year-old, now working as a postman, was not shortlisted for the post at Whitford Church in Wales school last spring.

An industrial tribunal heard last week that headteacher Ray Myles told him that two of the four teaching staff at the 108-pupil school in Flintshire were male and that having a third would be unusual.

Mr English said Mr Myles told him that although the need to avoid the appointment of another man should not have been one of the criteria, it was.

The tribunal heard that Mr English, who left his career as a benefits adviser to train as a teacher in September 2001, "failed to sell himself" and "did not shine" in his job application. He had never worked as a teacher while the woman who got the job displayed joy and enthusiasm for teaching.

Paul Brant, the barrister acting for the school's head and governors, said the letter and CV sent in by Mr English displayed no enthusiasm and was "very bland and flat".

But Mr English said the school should have seen he was a candidate of substance. He had a first-class honours degree in English, played eight different instruments, including the harp, and enjoyed story-telling.

At the hearing in Mold, Mr Myles could not recall the precise conversation but denied making the offending comments. Sexual discrimination did not take place, he said. "I would not have told him that. Why should I?"

Mr English of Llanarmon-yn-Ial sent his CV and short covering letter to Whitford school after seeing an advert for the job, but did not ask for a formal application form.

He said the head made the offending remarks when he telephoned to see what was happening to his application.

The tribunal heard Mr English was the only candidate who failed to fill in a formal application form and did not provide sufficient information.

Seven of the 26 or 27 applicants, including two men, were shortlisted, and the head, chairman of the governors Goronwy Ellis, and vice-chairman Nigel Parry, said Mr English's gender was not an issue.

Mr Parry said: "He didn't sell himself. An application has got to stand out from all the others, but his didn't shine."

Mr Brant said Mr English may have misinterpreted unguarded comments that may or may not have been made, which led him to believe more malicious intent lay behind his rejection.

The school denied failing to adopt proper recruitment procedures. Mr Myles said it had been looking for a good classroom teacher who would get on well with the small team.

He said that the school already had one of the finest musical education systems in the county and had a guitar class, rock band and other musical activities.

Judgment has been reserved.

Teacher reprimanded, 11

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