The National Secular Society (NSS) has warned that the proliferation of religious schools in Britain is encouraging gender discrimination after an Islamic boys school in Leicester advertised for a science teacher but specified that applicants had to be male.
Outsourcing firm Capita placed the advertisement for a temporary science teacher at the school but the ad was later withdrawn after the company was warned by the Department of Education that it may be in breach of equality laws.
The advertisement, promising £150-a-day for a fill-in teacher until the end of the current academic year, was referred to the NSS by a qualified female science teacher who was looking for work in the Leicester area.
According to an NSS statement, the ad is thought to have been placed by the Madani Schools Federation which runs the publicly-funded Madani Boys School which had previously placed a similar advertisement for a male ICT (Information and Communications Technology) teacher.
Capita argues that discrimination was allowed under exceptions to the Equality Act that permits religious organizations to discriminate on grounds of gender and sexual orientation of a "genuine occupation requirement" can be established or where the employer is seeking to comply with religious doctrines.
In a letter to Maria Miller MP, Minister for Women and Equalities, the National Secular Society has called on the Government to publish guidance that makes clear to schools that unlawful gender discrimination must not be accommodated within the education system.
Religious schools are already permitted by the government to discriminate against teachers who do not share the faith of the school. Exceptions to equality legislation that permits single-sex schools to admit pupils of only one sex apply only to admissions, and do not apply to the appointment of teachers, the NSS said.
The NSS statement adds: “The Government's encouragement of schools run by religious groups will bring with it increasing demands for religious customs and practices to be accommodated within our education system.
“If religious demands to discriminate and segregate along gender lines are accommodated, teachers of the 'wrong sex' will be disadvantaged and children in such schools are unlikely to be adequately prepared for life as equal citizens in a liberal democracy – which should be one of the fundamental aims of education policy."BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS