In a unique case that has captured the public’s attention, Joshua Sutcliffe, a Christian mathematics teacher, has been prohibited from teaching due to a ruling from the Secretary of State for Education. The decision was made on the grounds that he was “bringing the profession into disrepute” by not using the preferred pronouns of a female student who identified as a boy. Joshua, who is a father to a two-year-old, stands to lose substantial earnings due to this ruling and plans to appeal the decision with support from the Christian Legal Centre.
Sutcliffe first came into the public eye in 2017 when he launched a legal action against Cherwell School, where he was suspended and later dismissed for allegedly ‘misgendering’ a student referred to as Pupil A. During a mathematics lesson, Sutcliffe included Pupil A in the address, “well done girls,” leading to a heated reaction from the student. Despite having no formal guidelines or instructions on how to refer to Pupil A, and notwithstanding his impressive teaching record, an investigation was launched into his behavior, leading to his suspension and eventual dismissal. The legal case against Cherwell School was later settled out of court.
Despite the disputes between Sutcliffe and both schools having been resolved, the TRA persisted in conducting an investigation against him, leading to a seven-day hearing earlier this year. They investigated comments he had made about same-sex marriage in response to a student’s question during a Christian Union meeting and allegations that he had presented a video on masculinity without offering an alternative viewpoint.
At the end of the hearing, the panel recommended a prohibition order against Joshua, with a review scheduled after two years. The panel characterized Sutcliffe as “intolerant” and determined that his behavior constituted unacceptable professional conduct, potentially damaging the reputation of the teaching profession. Despite his pleas for leniency and supporting evidence, Alan Meyrick, the Chief Executive of the Teaching Regulation Agency, concluded that a prohibition order was both proportionate and in the public interest. Meyrick, acting on behalf of the Education Secretary, stated that his decision was partially influenced by Sutcliffe’s perceived lack of remorse for ‘misgendering’ Pupil A. As a result, Sutcliffe is banned from teaching indefinitely, with the earliest potential application to set aside the prohibition order set for 2025.