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  • Published in Opinion

It is extraordinary that Schools Minister Ed Balls has agreed that members of the BNP can work in our schools, in the same week that judge Paul Collins ruled its constitution illegal, saying, "I hold that the BNP are likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination."

Nazi teaching class

The BNP stands in the tradition of the Nazis. It is a racist and fascist organisation which denies the Holocaust and stands for an all- white Britain.

This is precisely why members of the BNP should not be allowed to work in public service professions, which are expected to serve all our citizens (regardless of race, colour, creed or sexuality).

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has a policy under which no member of the police service may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality. This specifically includes the British National Party.

ACPO's policy should be applied to all professionals who have a duty to promote race equality, including teachers.

Being a member of the BNP is untenable for a teacher, since the policies and positions of the BNP are incompatible with the ethos and values of teaching.

Promoting equality and diversity in schools is at the heart of the General Teaching Council’s Professional Code of Conduct and Practice for teachers. My union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), pursues this actively by helping schools and teachers to meet the legal duties placed on them by equalities legislation. This includes the Race Relations Amendment Act, which is strongly advocated as a way to improve outcomes for all children and young people.

Racism and fascism are the antithesis of the aims of education which strives for the liberation of every learner's potential. Teachers know only too well how those who preach hatred, racism or fascism can damage children’s lives. There should be no place for members of the BNP in our education system and we should all do whatever we can to rid our schools of its members who peddle their poisonous and divisive prejudices.

The guiding tenet of the NUT has always been to champion equality. Racism needs to be challenged effectively - especially when those on the far right seek to clothe themselves in the suits of respectability. The late NUT general secretary Steve Sinnott said: “I believe that our Union has a moral responsibility to argue against the ideas of racism and fascism that are diametrically opposed to our approach to education, which values every child, irrespective of race, colour or creed.”

NUT National Executive Committee member Nick Grant & I have written to the Guardian outlining our anger at Ed Balls’ decision and urging all those who share our concerns to contact the minister at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tony Dowling is membership secretary of Gateshead NUT (pc)


Dear editor

Balls Wrong On BNP In Schools

Schools Minister Ed Balls has insulted very many school communities by agreeing with a commissioner's findings that members of the BNP can work in our schools, in the same week that its constitution has again been ruled illegal.

How can this possibly be allowed when the BNP’s core beliefs insist that some of us - school staff, students and governors - are more equal than others?

The very word ‘education’ means to bring out the potential in every learner! Yet not every child matters for the BNP - only those of preferred ethnic origin. Together with sexual and disabled minorities plus trade unionists and refugees, they live in fear of BNP violence on the streets of our communities.

Balls' hand-picked advisor Michael Smith claims that there would be no clarity about "where to draw the line". Yet what could be easier than stating unequivocally that BNP membership is incompatible with registration by the General Teaching Council?

It is a complete red-herring to speculate that membership by teachers of other parties could be called into question. No other political organisations, apart from racists and Nazis, believe fundamentally that certain humans are less worthy than others.

Nor would a bar on them teaching be an infringement of their civil liberties. BNP members would remain free to choose whether they want to be teachers or not. It's just that they should not teach as long as they are.

In any case Smith and Balls have got their initial question back-to-front. They should not ask whether teachers should be banned from joining the BNP. They should insist that BNP members cannot join the teaching force.

The fact that there are so few BNP teachers at the moment is of no relevance either. The principles are clear. Being in the BNP is totally incompatible with fulfilling any teaching or civil service contract of employment, which is to serve all members of the public equally.

Lastly, we should all be worried that Smith and Balls are increasing OFSTED's powers to judge schools’ ability to deliver ‘community cohesion’. Even the most progressive school regimes cannot prevent the damage wrought on our communities by war and poverty, Islamophobia, homophobia and recession.

Schools do not cause racism, yet are expected to eradicate it alone, seemingly whilst tolerating BNP staff!

Nick Grant and Tony Dowling

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