Teacher 'sacked for explaining sex acts': Tribunal told of movement within school to 'get rid of a number of teachers who do not toe the orthodox Jewish line'

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The Independent Online
A NON-JEWISH biology teacher at a Jewish comprehensive school was sacked for telling pupils about oral sex and masturbation, an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Vincent Pedley, 49, claims he was unfairly dismissed by the governors of King David High School in Manchester after being accused of breaching sex education guidelines.

The governors said he should have dealt only with the biological details of reproduction, leaving all other aspects to be dealt with in a religious context by the Jewish studies department.

Mr Pedley, who joined the school in 1990, was sacked in 1992 after answering questions from a group of 16-year-old pupils, the tribunal in Manchester was told. His representative, Peter Bentley, said he had been the victim of moves to promote a more orthodox Jewish ethos in the school. 'This dismissal of Mr Pedley was a convenient hook on which to hang him. There has been a movement within the school to get rid of a number of teachers who do not toe the orthodox Jewish line,' he said.

Mr Bentley said the expression 'giving head' had been mentioned in a lesson. He asked the school's director of Jewish studies, Mr Steven Mintz, if it was reasonable that a teacher asked about this should give it its proper term. 'That would be a reasonable answer, but I would not want it to go any further than that in a biology lesson,' Mr Mintz replied.

Mr Bentley then asked Mr Mintz whether human reproduction 'in a grander sense of the word' did not involve more than one particular act.

Mr Mintz replied: 'No, it involves a loving relationship.'

Mr Bentley: 'I am talking about physical things. It might involve oral sex?'

Mr Mintz: 'I wasn't aware oral sex was a way of reproducing.'

Mr Mintz told the hearing that he would not have expected a biology teacher to have dealt with masturbation and oral sex. 'It was agreed that, if he would teach the actual physical aspects of reproduction, it would equip the pupils to come to our lessons to talk about the personal and social responses with a working knowledge of the subject which would make our job easier,' he said.

Mr Mintz said such issues as masturbation would be discussed 'honestly and openly' in Jewish sudies, if they were raised. 'I would not expect it to fall within the remit of biology teaching,' he said. 'If it was raised, I would expect the teacher to suggest in a professional manner this would be a subject best dealt with in its personal and social aspects in Jewish education.

'One has to be familiar with Jewish laws to deal with this effectively and the Jewish studies department are best equipped to teach this.'

Mr Mintz said he was satisfied Mr Pedley knew what his responsibilities were. He said the fact that Mr Pedley was not Jewish and 'was not aware of the intricacies of the Jewish response' made the need for guidelines all the more important.

Mr Bentley asked: 'Are you aware of a positive attitude to make the school more orthodox in its Jewish outlook?'

Mr Mintz replied: 'Of course. I am proud to be part of that process.'

Mr Bentley asked if oral sex and masturbation were inappropriate subjects for 16- year-olds.

Mr Mintz: 'It is not inappropriate for 16-year-olds because that is what 16-year- olds talk about, but I would contend that the situation in which they were taught was inappropriate.'

Mr Mintz was asked if the Levitical view of masturbation - that it was sinful - was generally held by Jews.

'It is taught that masturbation goes against the Jewish teaching and it would be seen in the context as a sin,' he replied.

The case continues today.

(Photograph omitted)

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