Eton College provost quits after sacking teacher over 'sexist' video
Eton College’s provost is stepping down after he was forced to defend the sacking of teacher who ‘six times’ refused to take down video of ‘sexist’ lecture in free speech row
- Ex-Tory minister William Waldegrave to leave post of Provost at Eton College
- He defended the sacking of English teacher Will Knowland in free speech row
The figurehead of Eton College is to step down following the most turbulent time in the school’s 600 year history.
Former Conservative cabinet minister William Waldegrave will leave the post of Provost at Britain’s most prestigious public school in June – or at the at the end of 2024 Summer Half, as it is known.
Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, who has been chair of governors for the past 14 years, was forced to defend the sacking of popular English teacher Will Knowland two years ago following a row over free speech which blew up into a public row.
And the former Secretary of State for Health will leave while the debate of whether to admit girls for the first time in the Berkshire school’s 600-year history continues to rage.
Eton College counts 20 prime ministers – including Boris Johnson and David Cameron, numerous cabinet ministers as well as Princes William and Harry among its alumni.
Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, who has been chair of governors for the past 14 years, was forced to defend the sacking of popular English teacher Will Knowland (pictured) two years ago following a row over free speech which blew up into a public row
Former Conservative cabinet minister William Waldegrave (right) will leave the post of Provost at Britain’s most prestigious public school in June – or at the at the end of 2024 Summer Half, as it is known
But the life peer was forced to back headmaster Simon Henderson in the vicious dispute over free speech back in 2020, insisting: ‘Eton will never cancel debate.’
READ MORE: Eton College’s provost defends ‘Trendy Hendy’ head for sacking teacher who ‘six times’ refused to take down video of ‘sexist’ lecture
The row erupted after Mr Knowland posted a lecture on his personal YouTube channel which questioned the ‘current feminist orthodoxy’ that sparked complaints that were sent to headmaster Henderson.
The peer said Eton was left with no choice but to sack Knowland after he allegedly refused six times to remove it, and he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
As provost Lord Waldegrave said: ‘Eton now, as in the past, is a school which prides itself on encouraging open-minded, independent and critical thinking.’
Earlier this month the peer admitted that the debate over whether to allow girls into the school was still raging.
He said: ‘I’ll let you into a secret. Every year, the governors of Eton consider whether Eton should go co-ed.
‘And we don’t quite decide. But, of course, we will go co-ed in due course.’
A former Eton fellow, Lord Waldegrave is the brother of the late Queen’s former right-hand woman Lady Susan Hussey.
In a resignation letter to Old Etonians he said it had been an honour to serve as provost.
Lord Waldegrave was forced to back headmaster Simon Henderson (pictured) in the vicious dispute over free speech back in 2020, insisting: ‘Eton will never cancel debate’
Eton College (pictured) counts 20 prime ministers – including Boris Johnson and David Cameron, numerous cabinet ministers as well as Princes William and Harry among its alumni
He wrote: ‘It has been a privilege to serve as Eton’s provost. As always, the provost and fellows have had the responsibility of modernising where necessary while conserving what is vital form the past.
‘I believe the school is in very good health, and very well led by Simon Henderson and the leadership team.
‘The academic, musical, sporting, theatrical and many other achievements of the boys are outstanding now as ever, thanks to our wonderful staff.’
Headmaster Simon Henderson thanked for peer for his work.
He said: ‘William has been a quite outstanding provost, whose wisedom and foresight has helped enable the college to extend its culture of educational excellence through balancing the best of the old with the best of the new.’
Sir William Russell, Chairman of the Old Etonian Association, added: ‘William’s tenure as Provost will be remembered for the skill with which he guided the College through the last fourteen years.
‘His long experience of public life and his love for Eton have combined to make him the ideal Provost during a period in which Eton has adapted to the challenges of the modern world whilst retaining its essential character and traditions.’
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