Religious discrimination in teacher employment questioned


A new Church of England report into the training needs of its schools has revealed that many face practical difficulties due to pursuing religiously exclusive practices. 

Findings of the report include that:

  • in part due to external pressures on schools to achieve academically, 'very low numbers of those interviewed/surveyed highlighted the Church’s mission to the most vulnerable in society through education as a priority'
  • it was noted by a number of school leaders that leading collective worship was often an area that teachers found difficult'
  • the current national shortage of school leaders was '... felt even more acutely by the Church of England’s network in education'
  • many dioceses have become more flexible around the requirement that head teachers need to be practising Christians and can reference successful church school heads who are from other faiths or none at all but are able to maintain a clear vision for education in line with the overall vision'

The growing number of faith schools that are successfully employing people from outside of the school's faith poses further questions about the appropriateness of current arrangements, whereby state funded faith schools have exemptions from equality law to be able to discriminate on faith grounds in the recruitment and employment of their teachers.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said: "The growing the number of Church of England schools that are appointing senior staff from outside the faith is encouraging.

"It further highlights that faith schools do not need to be able to discriminate by faith to uphold their ethos, and that those schools that operate discriminatory employment policies undermine the standard of their education by narrowing the pool of talent from which their teachers are drawn."