The Telegraph is reporting that a Muslim boys’ school in Leicester is facing claims of segregation after advertising for a temporary science teacher but making clear that women need not apply…
The advert published by the outsourcing company Capita requested a “Male Science Teacher” to cover lessons, including some mathematics classes, until the end of the current academic year on a short term contract for up to £150 a day.
Secular campaigners said the advertisement was just the latest in a series of demands for religious customs and practices to be “accommodated” in the education system as a result of giving faith groups the power to run schools…
Capita argued that the exclusion of women could be legally justified but the advert was later withdrawn after a warning from the Department for Education over the need to comply with equality law.
The National Secular Society said it had been alerted to the advertisement by a female science teacher who had been looking for work in the Leicester area…
The advert describes the school simply as an Islamic School for Boys in Leicester without specifying which school.
Capita refused to confirm the name of the school claiming it was to “protect their confidentiality”.
But it follows a similar advertisement placed by the Madani Boys School in Leicester last month for the post of “Male Technician” in the IT department.
Capita insisted that the male-only requirement was legal under the Equality Act, which allows employers an opt-out from sex discrimination rules in specific circumstances.
“These provisions are referred to as occupational requirements and they create exceptions that allow an employer to act in a way that would otherwise be discriminatory,” a spokeswoman said.
“Capita Education Resourcing is committed to equal opportunities both as an employer, and as an agency for the recruitment and placement of educational staff.”
But a spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “Schools must comply with equality law.
“We asked Leicester City Council to raise this with the school and the advert has now been withdrawn.”
Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the NSS said: “Being male isn’t a genuine occupational requirement for a science teacher in a state school. Any attempt to try and make it so is unjustifiable.
“The Government’s encouragement of schools run by religious groups will bring with it increasing demands for religious customs and practices to be accommodated within our education system…”
Can you see any justification for allowing the recruitment only of a certain sex of science teacher? Are there any circumstances where you would find it acceptable? More generally, if more schools are being run by religious groups, how can the balance between religious beliefs and what is expected in our broader society best be achieved? Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…