An incentive to encourage schools to employ more gay and transgender teachers has divided opinion, with critics calling it positive discrimination.
The scheme offers schools an extra £30,000 in funding to hire LGBT staff in a move to “plug the diversity gap”, reports Pink News.
Additionally, the new teachers must be promoted within 12 months of starting employment.
It’s a positive move for equal opportunities, but is it positive discrimination?
One person who isn’t impressed with the scheme is David Green of think tank Civitas. He told The Telegraph, “I think it’s profoundly misguided and the money could be better spent on providing more teachers for children from disadvantaged backgrounds”.
Tory MP David Nuttall agreed, saying, “Discrimination, positive or not, is still discrimination by its very nature. It means someone somewhere is being discriminated against. By definition it means that others who might be better qualified for promotion are discriminated against”.
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell said the money could be better spent.
“We support moves to diversify school leadership so that it is more representative of the communities schools serve”, she stated. “However, given the teacher shortage crisis in this county, it is important that this funding is properly accounted for and is not being used simply to help plug gaps given the failure of Ministers to train enough teachers and at a time when more teachers are leaving the profession than ever before”.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This programme encourages able teachers with potential, who might otherwise not have the confidence to compete for such roles without targeted intervention, to move into leadership roles”.
Responding to the “clear expectation of the funding” that “90 per cent of participants will progress to next stage promotion within 12 months of completion of the programme”, they added: “It is absolute nonsense to say that the people involved are promoted on the basis of diversity. All participants who apply for leadership roles must show they are the best person for the job to be successful. Participants do not have to be promoted within 12 months, they compete for leadership roles on the same basis as other applicants, and will only succeed where they are the most suitable person for the role”.
The £900,000 fund opened to applications this year and is described by the Department of Education as supporting all “under-represented groups” — it also calls for ethnic minority groups to be targeted.
Applications may be made on the basis of so-called “protected characteristics”, as defined by the Equality Act 2010 and including age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
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