The UK opens new chapter of anti-racism in schools

Teachers joining the BNP could find themselves pushed out of the classrooms

7th October 2009: With the government announcing the review of rules against racism in schools, teachers joining the BNP could find themselves pushed out of the classrooms. An indication to this effect has been provided by Schools Secretary Ed Balls.

The Schools Secretary made it clear that he considered BNP membership “fundamentally incompatible with the values and ethos of teaching profession”.

The indication comes at a time when Balls is under tremendous pressure from teaching unions to enforce tighter restrictions on racism in schools. So far, the Schools Secretary has stayed away from following the police and prison service example with a ban on BNP membership for teachers.

But Balls said now he was no longer convinced of efficacy and adequacy of the existing rules on promoting racial equality; and asked former Chief Inspector of Schools Maurice Smith to work on strengthening them.

In a letter to Smith, he asserted: Teachers hold a position of great trust, they are role models for young people and as a consequence their behaviour and conduct has a bearing on their suitability to work in the profession.
He added strong grounds were needed to bar individuals from the teaching on the basis of membership of organisations or registered political parties promoting racist views. But trust in the profession was paramount.

In his address to the Labour Party conference, Balls also declared there was no place for racism of any kind in the schools,” Balls declared.

The BNP membership list, leaked last year, showed 15 people, who identified themselves as teachers. But Balls said they could never be sure how many more may have chosen not to reveal their occupation.

General Secretary the NASUWT teaching Chris Keates welcomed the announcement. Describing it as a major step forward towards a ban, Keates said the NASUWT has been campaigning for years to have the teachers’ contract changed to prevent the BNP members from working as teachers.

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