Northern Ireland

Chris Lyttle launches consultation to include teachers in fair employment legislation

Education committee chairman Chris Lyttle
Education committee chairman Chris Lyttle Education committee chairman Chris Lyttle

THE chairman of the assembly education committee is seeking views on laws that allow schools to discriminate on the grounds of religion when appointing teachers.

An exception to the Fair Employment and Treatment Order (FETO) means schools can use religious belief to discriminate between candidates for posts.

It has been justified because all grant-aided schools are required by law to provide a daily act of collective worship and religious education in line with a specified Christian core syllabus.

Unions have called for it to be scrapped.

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle has now launched a consultation into a proposed private member's bill "to tackle the exclusion of teaching from fair employment legislation".

Mr Lyttle said he believed there was increasing agreement on it being unacceptable for teachers to be excluded from protections against religious discrimination in employment.

"Research carried out by the UNESCO Education Centre at Ulster University suggests only two per cent of teachers in Catholic primary schools are from a Protestant background, and in primary schools with mainly Protestant pupils, only seven per cent of teachers are from a Catholic background," he said.

"I am therefore seeking the views of the public to ask if they agree teachers should be included in the Fair Employment and Treatment Order and propose to make this change by way of a private member's bill at the assembly."