NASUWT calls for change in law to prevent discrimination in hiring of teachers

The recruitment of teachers is exempt from legislation outlawing religious discrimination here. Credit: PA

A leading teachers' union is calling for changes to equality legislation in Northern Ireland to ensure applicants for teaching jobs cannot be discriminated against.

The recruitment of teachers is exempt from The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1988 outlawing religious discrimination.

The practical effect of this is that it is not currently unlawful to discriminate against someone in an appointment process on the basis of their religious belief.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions' biennial conference in Belfast on Tuesday will hear a call to end the exemption.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said the legislation compromises efforts to tackle prejudice.

"Discrimination is damaging to children's education and to the wellbeing and careers of teachers," he said.

"This legislation is compromising efforts to tackle prejudice and hatred and conflicts with the goal of social inclusion which schools should be working to nurture and promote.

"No teacher should be denied opportunity to teach or to lead schools on the basis of their religious belief."

NASUWT national official Northern Ireland Justin McCamphill described the exemption as "outdated" and said it needs to be removed.

"We are calling on the First and deputy First Minister to remove this and ensure that every teacher has equality of opportunity and is able to apply for work in any school regardless of their religion or perceived community background," he said.

"Teachers should not have to wait any longer for the same employment rights as every other worker.

"Removing the teacher exemption is necessary to tackle endemic nepotism and lack of diversity in the teaching profession."