Positive discrimination good for schools

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Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has said he supports positive discrimination in schools because it is important for teaching staff to reflect the ethnic mix of pupils.

The head of Ofsted said in a radio interview that if he were still a headteacher and two candidates were equally qualified he would employ the one who best reflected the make-up of pupils in the school.

The schools inspectorate chief also claimed it is the duty of all schools to promote tolerance and teach children about the different cultures that now make up Britain.

Sir Michael said if the ethnic mix of pupils is very diverse, it's important to have a staff which reflects that.

But the Department for Education said that schools had to abide by equality legislation when appointing new members of staff, which meant that positive discrimination is not permitted. Howe3ver, the department went on to say: "Schools, like any other employer, may take positive action to address under-representation of any particular group of persons who share a protected characteristic."

The most recent census of school staff in England, published last spring, showed that 93% of teachers were white - with only 1% classified as black Caribbean.

School Leadership Today
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