Schools across Northern Ireland are failing to offer proper equalities training to their staff, despite the majority of teachers continuing to report on-going discrimination and homophobic/transphobic practices in their workplace.
These were among the shocking findings which emerged from a poll of teachers attending an equalities conference staged in Belfast this week by the NASUWT, the largest teachers union in Northern Ireland.
Bringing together teachers from across Northern Ireland, the event saw delegates discuss a wide range of equalities issues affecting the day-to-day lives of both teachers and pupils.
Key findings of real-time survey of delegates conducted at the event included:
- Only 9% reported that their school was actively addressing issues of homophobia and transphobia among staff, and 22% among students
- 59% were aware of discriminatory practices within their school
- Not a single teacher had undertaken school or local authority-led equalities training during the previous two years
- 19% believed their school was not a welcoming environment for teachers of different religions (12% for students)
Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:
“This feedback confirms what the NASUWT has found through casework and research, that government and employers are woefully neglecting their responsibilities on equality issues.
“Teachers and school leaders are clearly not being given the training and support they need and too many employers are at best only paying lip service to equalities, doing little in practice to address on-going discrimination and prejudice.
“Our education service should be inclusive, promoting and demonstrating tolerance, respect and understanding in an environment where everyone can work and learn free from abuse and fear.”
Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official for Northern Ireland, said:
“The fact that not a single teacher had undertaken equality training in the past two years is truly shocking. The only equality training that these teachers are receiving is through their trade union. The NASUWT will continue to push for a more equal education system in Northern Ireland.”