The British Humanist Association has written to the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) requesting urgent clarification on the legal powers that voluntary-aided faith schools have to discipline and dismiss teachers on religious grounds.
On September 9th DCSF Minister Vernon Coaker MP (Minister of State for Schools and Learners), stated in a reply to a parliamentary question from BHA Vice-President Evan Harris MP that voluntary-aided schools with a religious character ‘have the ability to have regard to the conduct of a teacher which is incompatible with the tenets of the religion of the school when considering the termination of employment of any teacher’.
BHA Director of Education and Public Affairs Andrew Copson said, ‘The government’s statement appears to give state-funded religious schools enormous and potentially arbitrary control over the lives of their staff, which goes far beyond what domestic and EU law provides. The minister’s comments will provoke deep concern among religious and non-religious people alike. We have therefore asked the government to set out in greater detail exactly how they believe these powers operate and what their limits are, though we do not accept the accuracy of the minister’s initial answer in any case.’
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