Catholic Schools urged to appoint the best teachers

September 15, 2014

The Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education has urged Catholic Dioceses to require their schools to appoint the best teachers available. The call follows a local newspaper report that a temporary primary school headteacher at a Catholic primary school in Seaford in East Sussex will not be considered as a permanent appointment because the teacher is not Roman Catholic.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Accord is regularly made aware of qualified teachers who are excluded from jobs at faith schools, including serving members of staff who are forced to leave their post for behaviour deemed to go against a school’s religious tenants, such as for seeking a divorce. It is a widespread, but greatly under reported problem. The details of most cases are not in the public domain. It is a person’s ability to teach or lead that should count, not the faith to which they do not adhere.

‘Faith schools do not need to discriminate by faith to uphold their ethos, and discrimination in the employment of teachers is not only divisive and unnecessary, but also undermines the standard of education schools provide by narrowing the pool of talent from which their teachers are drawn. Discrimination should not be part of school life. It would be much better for all involved, including for the reputation of Catholic schools and Dioceses, for schools to move away from such narrow practices, so they appoint the best teachers available. We urge Catholic authorities to review and update current policies.’

Religious discrimination in the employment of teachers has been identified as a source of weakness in the faith school sector. The ‘17th Annual Report: The State of the Labour Market for Senior Staff in Schools in England and Wales’ (2011) by The National Association of Head Teachers found that ‘… faith schools experienced particular difficulty at all stages of the recruitment process; this is especially true for many Roman Catholic schools’ (p6). The report provided recruitment data at the primary stage, finding that when Community schools sought to recruit a head teacher they did so 67% of the time. The appointment rate dropped to 62% for Church of England Schools and 49% at Roman Catholic Schools.



Accord’s position statement on ‘Employment in faith schools’ can be found at

Few of those directly affected by religious discrimination in employment are willing to speak out or empowered enough to become whistle-blowers. However, a rare example is provided below from Cllr Ralph Berry, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People at Bradford Metropolitan Distract Council, who told Accord:

‘Relatively recently a head teacher at a Bradford school was required to step down because they wanted to remarry, as this went against the tenants of the school’s faith. The head teacher was excellent at their job, and actively upheld the religious ethos of the school while in their post. However, rather than to live in sin, they wanted to marry their partner, and had to pay a penalty of losing their job for wanting to find happiness in their personal life in this way.

The school is almost entirely state funded, and lost an able head teacher during a period of a national shortage of head teachers. The head teacher should have been protected under employment law, but when it comes to the employment of most teachers in faith schools, many of the rights that almost all other employees enjoy in society enjoy are ejected. The power for schools to treat teachers in this way is over overdrawn, unjustified and unjust.

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