Academy accused of tolerating atheism but not Christianity

Academy accused of tolerating atheism but not Christianity February 2, 2018

The T2 Apprenticeship Academy in Bristol allowed ‘an outspoken left-wing atheist’ to remain in his teaching post but sacked a teacher for expressing her Christian opinions about homosexuality.
According to, the Bristol Employment Tribunal – hearing the case of Svetlana Powell – was told by Christian Legal Centre lawyer Pavel Stroilov that that the school’s treatment of Powell was “in stark contrast” to its dealing with students’ complaints against another teacher, Andrew Spargo, whom he described as an “outspoken left-wing atheist”.
Stroilov informed that Tribunal that Spargo spent most of his time in class:

Preaching to them on the daily basis about how terrible England is and how many innocent people the government has killed, as well as why Jesus never existed. On one occasion Spargo allegedly shocked the students by showing them a sketch of a naked woman with her legs open and vagina showing. On another, he allegedly twice told a student to ‘get the fuck out of my classroom’.

He added:

The school dealt with that situation pastorally. Mr Spargo was only told off, and had his probation period extended for three months. He continues to teach at the Academy, and for all we know, carries on with anti-Christian and anti-British indoctrination of students.
By contrast, Mrs Powell was dismissed on the spot for much milder comments. In my submission, we have proven today that this was because her views are Christian.

Last year Stroilov unsuccessfully represented a sacked magistrate, Richard Page, who claimed he had been “persecuted” for his Christian beliefs.
Powell told the Tribunal that she was dismissed by the government-funded academy in July 2016 after being asked by students about her views on homosexuality.

In reply to a personal question, Mrs Powell said that her personal belief was that homosexuality was against God’s will, but that He loved every person, regardless of what they did, or who they were.
When told that one of the students identified as a lesbian, Powell, in conviction of God’s care and love for every person, turned to her and said: “God loves you”. Two days later, the Academy’s HR Officer, Stacy Preston, told Powell that she was fired for “gross misconduct” with immediate effect.
The Academy’s Chief Safeguarding Officer, Sian Prigg, told the Tribunal that after a group of students complained that they were “brainwashed and preached to”, she decided to contact the local coordinator for Prevent – the government’s counter-terrorism strategy group – to report the incident.
Powell said she did not know of being reported as a “radicalisation threat” until she brought a legal claim against the Academy and read Prigg’s witness statement for the Tribunal.
Powell told the Tribunal she had been a teacher for 17 years at a Bristol College with an exemplary record, before joining the academy in May 2016 as a tutor. T2 is a pre-apprenticeship academy run by a private firm, Marr Corporation, on rolling contracts from the government.
In July of that year a “disruptive” Christian pupil allegedly pressed Powell into discussion with students about her Christian views.
The student, who had originally been warned about his behaviour, then asked the tutor for her personal views on homosexuality.  She replied by saying that as a Christian, she “personally” believed the Bible says that homosexual activity was against God’s will, but that God still loves every person regardless of what they did, or who they were.
The same student then said that another student in the group was a lesbian, to which the tutor replied that God loved her. The tutor was then asked whether the lesbian would “go to hell”, to which the tutor replied with the historic Christian view that for everyone who repents, God has provided a way of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. The tutor said nothing about “hell”.
The discussion became very heated with the original student who had been disciplined talking over others. During  break, that student, and four others left the classroom and then went to talk to the Academy manager, Liz Barker.
As a result of this, Powell was then called into another room by Barker, was told that the students had made a complaint, and that she would take it further and would be contacting Human Resources. When Powell returned to work the next day, she was told she had been suspended, and should await news from her employer, via email.
Powell was invited to a disciplinary hearing the next day at 11am, and did not have time to obtain legal representation. At the hearing on 27 July, she was grilled about her Christian faith and what she had expressed about it in her discussion with students.
After one hour, Powell was called back into the room and told her contract was being terminated on the basis that she could not control the class, and that her comments were offensive to some students.  She was told to leave the Academy immediately, and that she would not be allowed to appeal her dismissal.
Powell, supported by Christian Legal Centre (CLC), is suing Marr Corporation in Bristol Employment Tribunal for loss of earnings.

Andrea Williams, above, barrister and CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

We are seeing a worrying trend of cases such as this. The fact that Svetlana was reported to Prevent for holding Christian views is a sign of our times. It shows how Prevent will be used to punish innocent and soft targets. A radical rethink is required

•’s home page opens with a prayer before connecting to the Internet.

Almighty and eternal God, who created us in Thine image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, Bishop and Doctor, during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.

"Hmmmm, more prayers. That aught to do it. Those clergy are sure to stop diddling ..."

Satan blamed for misnaming Mormons – ..."
"So, basically, the people complaining about the ad are admitting that they are bigots/racists/homophobes/etc., and ..."

Scottish anti-hate campaign slammed for ‘fanning ..."
"A study on 20 people only? It looks limited, no?"

Study finds that bizarre Jewish ritual ..."
"I wonder if the Scottish government's anti-hate campaign includes hatred coming from Islam? Or do ..."

Scottish anti-hate campaign slammed for ‘fanning ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Broga

    “Almighty and eternal God, who created us etc. etc.etc.
    Total and unrelieved bollocks but not without some entertainment value. Saint Isidore, both a bishop and a doctor, is directing them on the internet. That is bloody funny or is it my warped sense of humour? I wonder what kind of doctor he/she is and where he/she got trained? The people who write this drivelling verbiage seem not to experience embarrassment.

  • andym

    Anyone else get the feeling we’re again getting something less than the full picture here?

  • Broga

    It’s OK. Isidore is legit. The Pope said so.
    “The patron saint of the internet is Isidore of Seville, who tried to record everything ever known. In 1997 Pope John Paul II declared Isidore of Seville the patron saint of the internet. Saint Isidore died in the year 636, long before the first host-to-host ARPANET connection in 1969.11 Oct 2015”

  • John the Drunkard

    I know Xtian groups in the US hold mass trainings for school-children, preparing them to disrupt class and harass teachers who don’t toe the line for the looney Right.
    It sounds as if we’ve got dueling whackos in this case. Student tries to force teacher to comply with agenda, whines to management when teacher tries to soft-soap the homophobia, teacher then plays opwession card.

  • L.Long

    Sounds like a lot of he said-she said going on! That is why I always recommend wearing a recording device at all times in a bigotry charged environment…like schools or religious influenced business. But we are in the time of the trumpkin, where even a recording can be denied and ignored.

  • Lucy

    @amdym. Exactly.

  • Stuart H.

    To be fair, if there’s any truth in her version, does sound a bit like a stitch-up.
    But the name Svetlana suggests she’s Russian, and if my experience of Russians who go into UK teaching is any guide, probably a good job the kids didn’t ask about Jews or blacks or there’d have been some genuine jaw-dropping stuff.

  • Philby

    Oh Dear. Christians are being persecuted!!!!
    I will not be happy until harridan and loon Andrea Williams squeals and shouts and whinges and shreiks and bitches every frigging day of the week about how christians are being persecuted. Frankly they deserve it. They deserve to be persecuted 24/7 because thats what they have been doing for millennia.

  • RussellW

    Yes, definitely.

  • StephenJP

    Agree with andym and RussellW. Something is definitely going unreported here.
    But this is an apprenticeship training centre. What are Ms Powell – and, come to that, Mr Spargo – doing talking about politics and religion?
    The thought occurs to me that Tom Sharpe’ s satirical fantasy “Wilt” has come to life, and that Powell and Spargo are Liberal Studies tutors who are being wound up by the equivalent of Gasfitters 4 or Plumbers 2. I wonder if we will ever find out the truth.

  • barriejohn

    It sounds as if the whole place should be shut down on the basis that they’re not providing students with an education. And I agree that we don’t have the full story here, though Ms Powell seems totally incapable of controlling a class.

  • 1859

    If – and this is a big ‘if ‘ – this story as described above is/was true, then dismissing someone because their personal views are those of a committed Christian, I think is wrong. As an atheist I would fight to the death to defend someone’s right to believe in any delusion they wanted as long as it was their own personal, private thing – a belief which didn’ t harm or hurt anyone else. And of course I would expect such a religious person to reciprocate in defence of my right to be an atheist. But sacking someone because they answered a provocative question in class truthfully about their own convictions, whilst ignoring another ‘teacher’ who rails against god and shows pictures of women’s genitalia, shows narrow-minded bias and is wrong. But, as many have pointed out, without the full story, the facts, the context etc., any judgment is premature.

  • AgentCormac

    If I’m reading it right, it sounds to me like Powell was provoked into talking about her religious views by a christian student, who then reported her to the authorities for talking about her religious views. So if there’s any persecution going on here surely it’s being instigated by christians themselves. But like others, I can’t help feeling that the jlpressagency report is all over the shop.

  • tonye

    Now that the Christian Legal Centre has got involved I bet everyone is shitting themselves. Not.
    Have they actually won anything they have got involved in? Is Andrea Williams a closet atheist?

  • Pastor Basil

    I am Svetlana’s Pastor, and without wanting to sound biased towards one of my partitioners this case here is a clear example of how clearly biased our society has become against Christianity. If we read the story above, and also as a person who was present in the two days of hearing it is very clear that this whole thing was a creation of this young disruptive kid who had earlier been disciplined by Ms Powell and was instigating against her and influencing other kids, especially with full knowledge that one of the kids was gay.
    However Miss Powell clearly made no mention of hell, it was that kid and she expressed her personal views and beliefs and mentioned God’s love to all humanity which requires them to repent and receive forgiveness of their sins. She also mentioned that we were all sinners including herself, so she was not tying to impose her religious views upon these kids but simply answering their questions and for less than an hour.
    Try to compare that with the other teacher who is an atheist, the kids reported that he always speaks about his atheism everyday and the school was okay with that. So it underlines the mentality our society has. Now it has become Christophobic to say the least because there is no tolerance whatsoever. To try to think that the school can go as far as report Ms Powell to an anti-terror government agency for expressing what she believes which is written in the bible which many of those witnesses swore upon on that day in the court is quite laughable if not absurd.
    There was no warning but immediate dismissal yet the other even more dangerous teacher to these kids in my opinion goes away with a slap on the wrist is quite shocking. The bible itself warns us of the times to come where people will say evil is good while good is deemed evil it won’t surprise us because clearly those days are here.

  • Broga

    Pastor Basil: This is my opinion and to find the evidence to support my contention just look around you.
    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
    But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
    Steven Weinberg.”
    Steven Weinberg is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.

  • Rene

    Isn’t there something…oh wait…yep:
    Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
    Oh, well, guess that go out the window in a democratic society like the UK. Let’s never mention Erdogan or Kim Jong Un anymore shall we? As we fail to protect even those rights in our own post-modern-everyone has the right not to be offended-not my country.

  • barriejohn

    Rene: She’s a fucking teacher!

  • Broga

    Rene: ” in a democratic society like the UK. ”
    Where did you get the idea that the UK has a democratic society. Unelected Head of State with vast privileges for herself and her relatives who are a fixture generation after generation.
    Unelected House of Lords including bishops picking up £300 a day while pushing their religious views.
    Government loaded with public school types who wait in line for sod all while telling the rest of us what we can have.
    The ripping to bits of live foxes by wealthy sadists in the sure knowledge that they can ignore the fact that fox hunting is illegal as the police will take no action.
    etc. etc. etc.
    etc. etc. etc.

  • Roger Fox

    I would say that we are in these last days now..
    2 Timothy 3 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
    3 But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

  • MG

    Where is the employment tribunal decision? I have tried searching for it to verify the facts and can’t.
    There isn’t a single reference to this on the Internet that doesn’t seem to originate in the press release or CC’s own story about it.
    The tribunal supposedly happened on 2 Feb – should have been published by now. Maybe my fingers are slipping – can someone else try?

  • MG

    Just emailed the tribunal court to chase this up, they replied that it might not be online yet (even though many more recent decisions are). Probably best to reserve judgement until the full decision report is out.

  • barriejohn
  • MG

    Thanks Barrie John. So a supply teacher lost control of the class – the reason why doesn’t really matter – and was asked to leave. Happens every week, I’m guessing.

  • Possibly, the judgment was oral. If so, there are only press reports of it, which needn’t be accurate, and the possibility that somebody will one day fork out for a transcript of the judgment, made from the tape recording of the oral judgment, and then kindly upload the transcript into the public domain.
    I reached the conclusion that either there was somebody in authority with a chip on his or her shoulders against Christians and Christianity, or (the cover story, for the press, as to why she got sacked) that she was like an Everton supporter, ambushed by students who supported Liverpool, on a mission to cost her her job, who let herself get sucked into the plot, losing control of her class, playing straight into the hands of the students who wanted her punished, who ended up winning.
    Either way, I can see how this can easily happen, in today’s illiberal and intolerant times, but I still find it sad, whichever way round it was.

  • barriejohn

    MG: I think you’ve summed it up. Why the Christian Legal Centre got involved I have no idea. Either they are obsessed with the idea of “Christian persecution” or else they want (at enormous cost) to brainwash the rest of us with the idea that this is what is going on in such cases!