Teacher sacked for offering to pray for sick pupil

A Christian teacher dismissed from her job after offering to pray for a sick pupil said today she felt she had been treated like a criminal.





Maths teacher Olive Jones was let go from her job teaching children who were too ill to go to school after visiting the home of a pupil for a lesson and discussing her faith with the girl's mother.



The girl was too poorly for the lesson so instead Mrs Jones, 54, spoke about her belief in miracles and asked whether she could say a prayer, but says when the mother said they were not believers she did not go ahead.



A complaint was then made by the mother that Mrs Jones' comments had distressed her and her child.



As a supply teacher who did not have a formal contract, Mrs Jones was told her services were no longer required just hours after the visit on November 25.



Mrs Jones, whose youngest son is a Royal Marine who has served in Afghanistan, has worked part-time at the Oak Hill Short Stay School and Tuition Service North in Nailsea, North Somerset, for almost five years but has been teaching for more than 20 years.



"If I had done something criminal, I believe the reaction would have been the same," said Mrs Jones, from Weston-super-Mare.



"It is like a black mark against my name and character when it comes to getting a reference for another job, just because I shared my testimony, as if I committed a criminal act.



"I simply wanted to encourage them to be open to prayer but if they did not want to then I would never force it down their throat."



She was timetabled to work for 12 hours a week at the school for children with ill health or behavioural problems, sometimes visiting youngsters at their homes.



Mrs Jones had been speaking to the mother, over a cup of tea, about the time she felt God had saved her life.



She recounted an experience as a teenager when she was driving a tractor on the family farm and it slid down a slope but came to a halt just before tipping over.



"I talked about the tractor and miracles and the mother did not stop me or look cross, so I continued," she said.



"It was only when I mentioned prayer that the mother said I do not want prayer, we do not believe, so I did not go ahead."



Mrs Jones left the house on what she thought were good terms and arranged the next lesson.



When she returned to the school she was called in to her manager's office, where she was told that sharing her faith with a child could be deemed to be bullying.



"I was in complete shock, I was trembling," she said.



"I'm not out to get anyone, I am angry at their interpretation of freedom of speech.



"I am amazed that a country with such a strong Christian tradition has become a country where it is hard to speak about your faith.



"Our country was made great because of its Christian values, but now we have to water down our faith."



Mrs Jones trained to be a teacher at Aberystwyth University, where she met her husband Peter who is also a teacher, heading the maths department at a local state secondary school.



She has a diploma from the Pentecostal Carmel Bible College in Bristol and is a regular churchgoer, attending her local Church of England church as well as the college.



The couple have two children, student Rob, 24, and soldier James, 23.



She said: "My faith is not just on a Sunday, my behaviour and attitude to life reflects my faith.



"If I did not have faith I would not be able to cope with my son being a marine."



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn