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The NASUWT – the Teachers’ Union is calling for changes to equalities law in Northern Ireland to ensure no teacher can be discriminated against when applying for jobs, regardless of their religion.
 
At the NASUWT Annual Conference, the Union is calling for a change to the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1988 to remove the exemption regarding the employment of teachers in schools.
 
The current law allows for an exemption in relation to equality of opportunity and fair participation in employment for members of the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.
 
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. 
 
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: 

“Discrimination is damaging to children’s education and to the wellbeing and careers of teachers. 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National Official Northern Ireland Justin McCamphill said: “The exemption to the Fair Employment and Treatment Order is outdated and needs to be removed.
 
“We are calling on the administration 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.
 
“Removing the teacher exemption is necessary to tackle endemic nepotism and lack of diversity in the teaching profession.”
 

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