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nasuwt report 05 september 2004

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nasuwt report 05 september 2004 Powered By Docstoc
					                                     NASUWT

                              Equality Matters
                the only equalities newsletter for teachers

NASUWT
The Teachers‟ Union
Autumn Term




                         the largest UK-wide teachers‟ union
SLAVERY MYTHS SHATTERED
Slavery is alive and flourishing in modern-day society, NASUWT activists have been
reminded. Teacher trade unionists can support the call to bring it to an end.There is an
urgent need to dispel the myth that slavery and forced labour is a thing of the past, Aidan
McQuade from pressure group Anti-Slavery International told NASUWT Equality Officers
at a recent briefing event. He pointed out that official estimates put the number of slaves
worldwide at 12.3 million, but that academics believe the true figure could be as high as
27 million. Around half of all slaves are children.

His organisation works to campaign for the eradication of slavery and enhanced support
and protection for those forced into labour.

He explained that in the western world most slavery tends to involve the trafficking of
people from minority and marginalised groups into sectors such as agriculture and the
sex industry. In other countries bonded labour is still prevalent where generations of
families can be forced into slavery in order to pay back historical loans borrowed for
essentials such as medicine.

Mr McQuade explained that slavery is allowed to flourish due to a lack of regulation and
immigration policies, which often punish the victims of slavery by deporting them rather
than offering support and assistance. This discrimination is exacerbated by the general
lack of understanding and awareness around slavery in wider society, he added. “There
is a belief among people, and even among those who have been enslaved, that slavery
is a thing of the past and often they do not identify themselves as slaves. If the problem
cannot be recognised, then it cannot be diagnosed and treated.”

He went on to describe a number of practical actions that can be taken by trade unions
and teachers to support the campaign to end slavery. From September, the transatlantic
slave trade will be included in the global citizenship curriculum, offering teachers
opportunities to instigate classroom discussions. Anti-Slavery International will be
offering resources and training to teachers from the new academic year, Mr McQuade
informed members.

He also urged members to sign up to Anti-Slavery International‟s campaign group, which
organises practical activities such as letter writing to decision makers to influence policy
on slavery issues.

More information on Anti-Slavery International can be found at their website at
www.antislavery.org.


   NASUWT CONSULTATION CONFERENCES 2008/9


   WOMEN TEACHERS
   Saturday 25 October
   Jurys Inn, Birmingham
   BLACK AND MINORITY ETHNIC TEACHERS
Saturday 29 November
Jurys Inn, Birmingham
YOUNG TEACHERS
Saturday 24 January
Jurys Inn, Birmingham
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER TEACHERS
Saturday 21 February
NASUWT Headquarters, Birmingham


The NASUWT is again holding its annual programme of consultation conferences
that aim to enable groups underrepresented within the Union‟s decision-making
structures to engage with the key issues and challenges facing the Union.


The series of events provides the opportunity to discuss strategies to promote the
interests of and participation in the Union from underrepresented groups.


A range of high-profile speakers will be sharing their thoughts on the issues and
barriers facing each group of teachers, both within the trade union movement and
the teaching profession, and there will also be the chance to take part in a range
of workshops on key topics.


Issues arising from the Conferences will be used to inform NASUWT policy and
practice, and influence the Union‟s work with Government, national bodies and
schools and colleges. Attendance is free and overnight accommodation can be
provided if required.


To reserve a place at any of the events please contact the NASUWT on 0121
453 6150 or e-mail conferencesandevents@mail.nasuwt.org.uk.
CROSSING THE BOUNDARIES
Ninety years after the first woman MP was elected to Westminster, NASUWT members
gathered in London for the NASUWT‟s national equalities conference on the
participation of women in the political process. „One in Five‟, so-called to reflect the
number of female MPs, invited high-profile speakers from the worlds of equalities and
politics to debate the reasons for the continuing marginalisation and under-
representation of women within the political sphere. The conference was sponsored by
the Government Equalities Office, the Fawcett Society and Women‟s Parliamentary
Radio.

The NASUWT‟s General Secretary called for decisive action within a decade to remove
the barriers to achieving true equality for women. Chris Keates [left], the only woman
General Secretary in the ten largest TUC-affiliated trade unions, said action must be
taken to address not only the inequality and injustice still faced by all women in seeking
to participate in the political process, but the double prejudices faced by many women on
the grounds of their race, faith, age, sexuality or disability.

She said: “Our aim should be to ensure that by 2018, which will be the centenary of
women winning the right to vote, not only are our political structures more appropriately
representative but that other injustices and equalities are addressed, for while women
are underrepresented in the political structures, black and minority ethnic women remain
one of the most excluded groups from the political and decision-making process. We
therefore need to be aware of and to tackle joined up prejudice and multiple oppression.”

Delegates were also able to hear a range of other speakers from across the spheres of
women‟s rights and politics debate issues that included the role of education in
challenging sexism, increasing the participation of black and minority ethnic women in
politics and the relationship between economic and political power.

Barbara Follett MP, Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, addressed the conference
and depicted a world where women were represented fairly and asked: “Would we have
a media who write about knife crime but ignore the two women a week who lose their life
to domestic violence?” She also urged delegates to exert a positive influence on the
younger generation of women and support them to realise their potential.

A number of speakers suggested that direct action is the only solution to the continuing
issue of the gender pay gap and the lack of women in senior political and social
positions. The women‟s movement still has an important fight ahead to give women a
sense of empowerment

   One in Five attracted a host of distinguished speakers. They were:
   Barbara Follett MP, Minister for Women;
   Katherine Rake, Director, the Fawcett Society;
   Sian Berry, Green Party;
   Professor Nickie Charles, University of Warwick;
   Jackie Ashley, The Guardian;
   Linda Bellos, political activist;
Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, Aston University;
Professor Mary Davis, London Metropolitan University;
Professor Meg Maguire, Kings College, London;
Boni Sones, Women‟s Parliamentary Radio;
Theresa May MP, Shadow Minister for Women;
Frances O‟Grady, TUC Assistant General Secretary;
Lesley Abdela, Project Parity.
‘KEEP THE PROMISE’ ON CHILD POVERTY
The NASUWT is backing a campaign to pressure the Government to honour its
commitment to end child poverty by 2020.

The Union is a key supporter of End Child Poverty‟s „Keep the Promise‟ campaign,
which aims to highlight the damage poverty can do to a child‟s life chances and keep the
spotlight on the pledge made by the Government in 1999 to halve child poverty by 2010
and eradicate it by 2020.

Initially, good progress was made towards the Government‟s targets, however, these
efforts have stalled and without a £3bn investment in tax credits and benefits the 2010
target will not be met. In the UK, 3.9 million children, around one-in-three, live in poverty,
one of the worst rates in Europe.

The NASUWT will be taking part in the largest ever event to end child poverty in
Trafalgar Square on 4 October where campaigners will march through London to
highlight the need for urgent action to lift the UK‟s children and young people out of
poverty.

To sign up to the campaign or to find out more about taking part in the London event in
October, please visit www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/promise.
UNIONS’ BNP BATTLE CONTINUES
The NASUWT is continuing to press the Government to adopt measures to allow trade
unions to bar members of racist and fascist organisations from membership.

The Union is working with other members of the movement through the TUC to press for
restrictions on trade unions‟ freedom to determine their own membership to be lifted via
the Employment Bill that is currently progressing through Parliament. This has been
threatened by an amendment to the Bill, which has been adopted by Parliament, which
provides that unions should only be permitted to exclude an individual on the grounds of
their political party membership where certain conditions are met.

The amendment would potentially impose more restrictions on trade unions and create
opportunities for the far right to seek to legitimise and promote their policies.

The NASUWT believes that employment within the public sector and membership of the
trade union movement is incompatible with the racist and fascist views and values of the
British National Party (BNP) and other far-right organisations, and will continue to press
for this right to be enshrined in law

SUPPORTING TEACHERS, SUPPORTING SCHOOLS
Greater action must be taken by the Government and employers to break down the
barriers of discrimination and prejudice that prevent too many talented teachers with
disabilities breaking into and remaining in the profession, members have heard.

Addressing delegates at the Union‟s recent Disabled Teachers‟ Consultation
Conference, Dr Patrick Roach [left], the NASUWT Assistant General Secretary,
emphasised the need for data on the number of teachers with disabilities to enable
informed action to improve representation. He said: “We are plagued with a wall of
silence and denial when it comes to disabled teachers. It‟s a national scandal that in
2008, we are still unable to provide information about the diversity of the school
workforce in a manner that would allow us to identify and deal with unlawful
discrimination.”

Dr Roach added that it is “despicable” that many disabled teachers are forced to hide
their disability for fear of victimisation by their employers and highlighted the need for
tougher enforcement of employers‟ duties to support workers with disabilities.
“Employers are reluctant to make reasonable adjustments to buildings and working
practices,” he stated. “Teachers with disabilities are too often regarded as costly and
disposable.”

Alun Davies, Disability Committee Member for the Equality and Human Rights
Commission (EHRC), spoke about discrimination against the disabled in wider society,
pointing to the continuing problem of hate crime against disabled people, social care and
class inequality. “It‟s clear if you live in a family of low income with an impairment, you
have a lower chance of getting out of trouble. Addressing income equality across the
board is key,” he said. A legal context was provided by David Carrington-Porter,
Education Advisor for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who spoke to
delegates about reasonable adjustments in education and outlined the key points of the
Disability Discrimination Act and how it can be used to achieve greater equality at work.
The event was concluded by trade unionist Ray Ludford from Unite who spoke about the
continuing campaign to save dozens of Remploy workshops from closure. Remploy
employs disabled people on a commercial basis, providing them with the opportunity to
gain skills to move into sustainable employment.

He called on the Government to do more to increase equality for disabled people, stating
that the closure plans will exacerbate the isolation and prejudice experienced by many
job-seekers with disabilities.

FLEXIBLE WORKING EXTENDED
The Government has announced it is to extend the right to request flexible working to
parents of children aged up to 16. Regulations currently limit the opportunity to parents
of children who have disabilities or who are aged under six, but the extended legislation
will see the right to request extended to cover 4.5 million more parents.

The right to request flexible working is only available to workers who have been with
their current employer for at least 26 weeks and who have not made a previous request
to work flexibly in the last 12 months. The employee must put their request in writing to
their employer, setting out how they wish to alter their current working practices. Flexible
working arrangements can include working from home, part or flexi-time or compressed
hours.

The employer has a statutory duty to meet with the employee to discuss the request
within 28 days and to notify the employee of their decision within 14 days of the meeting.
If the request is rejected by the employer, the employee has a right to appeal against the
decision and if this fails, it is possible in certain circumstances to take further legal action
if the employee believes proper consideration was not given to the request.

The NASUWT welcomes the extension of flexible working requests to parents of older
children but would still wish to see all workers have this right. The Union is working
through the TUC to continue this campaign.

LET THEM WORK
A new campaign calling for asylum seekers to be allowed to work after living in the UK
for six months has been launched by the TUC and the Refugee Council.

In 2002, the Government made it illegal for asylum seekers to work, a law the „Let Them
Work‟ campaign is seeking to overturn.

For more information on the campaign, contact Wilf Sullivan at the TUC on
wsullivan@tuc.org.uk.
EQUALITY INSPECTION CALL
The NASUWT has reiterated its call for tougher measures to ensure schools are meeting
their statutory duties to promote equality and tackle prejudice against both staff and
pupils.

The Union has consistently raised concerns about the failure of OFSTED to adequately
inspect schools‟ performance on equality issues and believes that without further action,
the duty to promote community cohesion, which comes under OFSTED‟s remit from
September, will also be marginalised.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, has criticised the „hierarchy‟ of
bullying that exists in some schools and leads to some forms of abuse, such as
homophobia, being treated less seriously than other forms of prejudice.

She added: “OFSTED has equality monitoring in its inspection framework but
regrettably, there is no evidence that equality issues are prioritised in inspection. There
must be zero tolerance of all forms of prejudice-related bullying of pupils and staff.”

Pressure group Stonewall has launched a new Education Champions Programme to
provide support to local authorities in tackling homophobic bullying in their schools. The
first five local authorities taking part, which include Birmingham and Wigan, will work with
the charity and each other to promote a safe and inclusive learning environment and
establish practical ways of addressing homophobia in schools.

The NASUWT welcomes the launch of the programme as another step towards
eliminating homophobia in schools and as an important extension of the work the Union
has undertaken with Stonewall and the DCSF to create detailed online guidance for
schools in tackling homophobic bullying

ACADEMIES AND EQUALITIES
The NASUWT has called for the barriers academy schools are presenting to achieving
race equality to be investigated in a motion to the TUC Black Workers Conference.

The Union took 16 delegates to the three-day conference in Eastbourne to debate and
discuss ways of achieving greater equality for black and minority ethnic workers within
the trade union movement.

In moving the NASUWT‟s motion on academy schools, Muzaffar Hussain [right] told
delegates that the academy schools programme is greatly exacerbating inequality in the
workplace, along with threatening the public sector ethos.

Mr Hussain went on to state that as academy sponsors are free to determine pay and
conditions, staff, many of whom are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, often
receive lower salaries and less favourable conditions of service than colleagues in the
maintained sector.

Such inequality should not be allowed to continue, Mr Hussain told the conference as he
called on the TUC to lobby the Government to ensure there is no further expansion of
the academy schools programme and that all existing academies are returned to local
authority control.

He went on to urge the Government to undertake a race equality audit of students and
staff in academy schools to identify any issues of discrimination or prejudice and for the
results to be published publicly.

NASUWT delegates [below] also spoke on a number of other motions including racial
abuse, racism in the media, the far right, tackling racism through education and
Zimbabwe.

Delegates had the opportunity to take part in a debate entitled „Is Black still our greatest
means of unity?‟, which examined the future for the black workers movement and also
heard from speakers from the Refugee Council, the TUC and the Fawcett Society.

BILL TARGETS INEQUALITY
Action to bridge the gender pay gap, outlaw age discrimination and place new duties on
employers to tackle homophobia and faith-based prejudice have been unveiled by the
Government.

The proposals, which will apply to Scotland, England and Wales, are among a range of
measures included in a new Equalities Bill that aims to simplify and strengthen the law
around tackling prejudice.

Provisions in the Bill include the amalgamation of the existing duties on public sector
employers to promote equality on the grounds of race, gender and disability into one
overarching equality duty, which will also be extended to cover sexual orientation,
gender reassignment, age and religion or belief.

The Bill also includes steps to tackle the gender pay gap, including a ban on secrecy
clauses that prevent employees discussing their salaries and greater transparency
around pay gaps in public services.

Positive action strategies that allow employers to appoint workers from groups
underrepresented within the workforce will be promoted, along with measures to
encourage greater numbers of women and black and minority ethnic candidates into
Parliament and local government.

The Bill will contain new powers to outlaw age discrimination in the provision of goods
and services and introduce changes to the employment tribunal system, which will allow
multiple and group discrimination cases to be brought.

The Government is to set out its proposals in more detail shortly before the Bill is
brought before Parliament to become law.
RALLYING AGAINST RACISM
The NASUWT has issued a rallying cry against racism at two high-profile
demonstrations in the Capital. NASUWT members [right] joined thousands of other
campaigners to send an unequivocal message that prejudice and bigotry is not tolerated
by the vast majority of people in the UK at events to demonstrate against the British
National Party (BNP) and other farright organisations.

Over 100,000 revellers attended a huge carnival in Victoria Park, organised by Love
Music Hate Racism, to mark the 30th anniversary of the formation of Rock Against
Racism. At a separate event, organised by Unite Against Fascism, protestors marched
from the Greater London Assembly building to Trafalgar Square in a display of protest
against the election of BNP councillors in the recent local elections, including Richard
Barnbrook to the Greater London Assembly (GLA).

NASUWT Deputy General Secretary Jerry Bartlett [above] took to the platform at both
events to urge continued action to challenge and tackle racism. He said: “We must not
allow ourselves to become complacent about the threat of the BNP. In the local elections
they managed to get a candidate elected onto the London Assembly, which represents
the biggest electoral breakthrough for a fascist in this country. The threat is real and
increasing and we must mobilise the support of the majority of people in this country who
oppose such vicious ideologies to challenge the growth of the far right.”Mr Bartlett also
called for support for the Union‟s campaign for the right to bar racists and fascists from
membership of the NASUWT, saying: “The Union is totally opposed to racism in our
schools and colleges, fascism in our communities and BNP members and supporters in
our trade union movement. “Racist views are irreconcilable with teaching and fascists
cannot be trade unionists.”

ACTION ON BULLYING OF THOSE WITH DISABILITIES
The NASUWT has welcomed new guidance to support schools in tackling the bullying of
pupils with disabilities and special educational needs (SEN) but has called for similar
advice to be published to cover the abuse of staff.

The bullying guidance follows the recent publication of advice on racist, cyber and
homophobic bullying under the Safe to Learn guidance, which the NASUWT was
involved in drafting. The advice is designed to help school staff understand and deal with
the particular issues that lead to bullying on the grounds of disability.

It recommends strategies to help schools stamp out the bullying of students with
disabilities or special educational needs, including appointing a member of staff to look
out for a particular child, promoting more understanding of disabilities among staff,
students and parents and ensuring that all pupils are included in sport and physical
activities.

The use of special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) to identify children at risk
of being bullied and to intervene where harassment is taking place is highlighted along
with the development of an effective whole school anti-bullying policy.

Research by Mencap has shown that children with learning disabilities are more than
twice as likely to be bullied or physically attacked as other students. The guidance
reflects the NASUWT‟s campaign to raise awareness of the problem of prejudice-related
bullying but the NASUWT‟s General Secretary, Chris Keates, highlighted the need to
take a whole school approach to tackling the issue, which also encompasses support for
staff.

She explained: “Every day children are tormented and abused by bullies with
devastating and often lasting impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. Bullying
wrecks lives. “Bullying can only be effectively challenged if it is tackled as a whole school
issue. Protecting staff from bullying and being seen to do so is a critical part of creating a
climate in which it is clear that bullying will simply not be tolerated. “Guidance from the
DCSF must therefore follow focusing on tackling the bullying and harassment of staff
with disabilities.”

Alongside the bullying guidance the Government has also announced a pilot project to
address disabled children‟s access to childcare, which will examine the shortage of
breakfast and after school places for children with disabilities, the lack of appropriat ely
skilled staff in schools and early years and the length of time disabled children have to
wait for assessments of their needs. More information is available on the Every Child
Matters website at www.everychildmatters.gov.uk. The Safe to Learn guidance can be
accessed at www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/behaviour/
tacklingbullying/safetolearn.

The dedication and courage of two educators in challenging discrimination and inequality
has been honoured by the NASUWT at a prestigious awards ceremony marking the life
and achievements of Anne Frank.

Samantha Hunt and Sarah Edoo were presented with the Educators‟ Awards at the
Anne Frank Awards by Sue Rogers, NASUWT National Treasurer, at a ceremony in
London. The NASUWT is a long-standing supporter of the Anne Frank Trust and was
involved in judging the awards. The Educator category is given in memory of former
NASUWT General Secretary Eamonn O‟Kane and his widow, Daphne, attended the
ceremony to meet the winners.

The awards recognise adults and young people who have demonstrated the qualities of
moral courage, strength and determination embodied by Anne Frank. Chris Keates,
General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The NASUWT is proud to work alongside the
Anne Frank Trust. “We are delighted to be able to honour the achievements of these
educators who are ensuring that Anne Frank‟s story and values are not forgotten.
“These award winners have made a major contribution to moving forward to a brighter
future with an educated, socially responsible generation at the helm.”

Nominations are now open for the 2009 Anne Frank Awards. For more details and to
make a nomination, see the website at www.annefrankawards.org.uk.

About the winners:
Samantha Hunt In 2001, Sam, who works as an RE and citizenship teacher, visited
Auschwitz, which compelled her to volunteer as an educator for the Holocaust Education
Trust (HET). She now visits schools all around the country teaching about the Holocaust
and organising student trips to Auschwitz.
In her own school Sam developed the Holocaust Education Programme by exploring the
genocide in Rwanda. She went to Rwanda to explore practical ways of supporting the
survivors. On her return she launched the „Reaching Rwanda‟ campaign, which has
raised £8,000 for those in need.

Sarah Edoo
As a teenager Sarah ran away from home and started selling drugs, resulting in two
years in prison. After finishing her sentence she began volunteering at Holloway Prison,
working with the inmates to help them gain skills in printing. With the support of the
Prince‟s Trust she set up her own mug printing business „Mugs by Sarah‟, which
employs exoffenders. She has also started „A 2nd Chance‟, an organisation that works
with ex-offenders, particularly women, to support their rehabilitation back into society.

MARCH FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS
The NASUWT is urging women members to take to the streets to protest against
violence against women.

The Union is sponsoring this year‟s Reclaim the Night march on Saturday 22 November
in London, which encourages women to join together to call for greater action to tackle
rape and abuse.

Domestic violence claims the lives of two women in the UK each week and there are
over 300,000 sexual assaults and 47,000 rapes annually, yet the conviction rate for rape
is decreasing and currently stands at just 5% – the lowest rate in legal history.

Reclaim the Night aims to empower women to use the streets without fear of assault or
attack by staging a march through central London to highlight the call for justice for
women affected by violence.

Women are invited to join the march, which will assemble at Whitehall Place at 6pm and
will be followed by a rally with a variety of speakers and stalls, to which men and children
are also invited.

The NASUWT will be represented at both the march and rally. For further details about
Reclaim the Night see the website at www.reclaimthenight.org.

WORKERS’ STRUGGLE REMEMBERED
Pioneering trade unionists will be remembered at this year‟s W omen Chainmakers
Festival, which is set to take place on Saturday 13 September. The annual event
commemorates the Cradley Heath women chainmakers who suffered a ten-week
lockout by their employers in their quest to be paid a minimum wage. The festival, which
is being held at the Black Country Living Museum in the West Midlands, will include a
keynote speech from Baroness Margaret Prosser, Deputy Chair of the Equalities and
Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Music will be provided by veteran politico-folkers Chumbawamba. The day-long event
will begin at 10am and will include the traditional procession of trade union banners
around the site. The NASUWT will be represented at the event and during the
procession. Tickets for the festival are available from the Black Country Living Museum
on 0121 520 8054.
CURRICULUM EQUALITY
Challenging the hetrosexism of the school curriculum is key to tackling the homophobia
experienced by many pupils and teachers, the NASUWT has told Government ministers
and fellow trade unions.

As part of the NASUWT‟s campaign to tackle all forms of prejudice-related bullying in
schools, the Union tabled a motion on hetrosexism to the annual TUC Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Conference and took part in a separate meeting with
Kevin Brennan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and
Families, to discuss how homophobia can be challenged.

At the TUC Conference, the NASUWT noted that important steps have been taken to
address homophobia in schools with the development of the Safe to Learn guidance by
the DCSF, in collaboration with the NASUWT, and research on homophobic bullying
undertaken by Stonewall. However, the issue of sexual orientation remains largely
hidden within the curriculum, the NASUWT believes, as evidenced by the fact that three
quarters of young people affected by homophobic bullying report they have never seen
issues of sexual orientation addressed in the classroom.

The NASUWT called for trade unions and partner organisations to share and
disseminate examples of good practice in tackling homophobia in schools and colleges
and to work with the Government and educational bodies to press for tougher action on
promoting a genuinely inclusive curriculum.

To further this agenda, Representatives from the NASUWT met with Mr Brennan to
discuss how LGBT equality can be achieved in schools and colleges. The Union told the
Minister that in order to achieve real and lasting change the Government must introduce
a statutory obligation on schools and colleges to challenge discrimination on the grounds
of sexual orientation. This would help to avoid the assumption that heterosexuality is the
norm. Such a duty must be backed with sustained enforcement from local authorities,
the NASUWT emphasised, as the Union believes that at present schools are not being
held to account on their responsibilities for promoting equality.

The NASUWT also used the meeting to underline the need for issues of sexual
orientation to start to be addressed at primary school level, as early intervention is key to
challenging prejudices and tackling discrimination. Such an approach could be assisted
by recruiting LGBT teachers to act as „champions‟ for equality, the Union suggested,
however, before this could take place, effective strategies to challenge the abuse and
prejudice often encountered by staff would need to be in place.

Mr Brennan responded that he would be broadly in favour of enacting statutory duties on
schools and colleges to promote equality on the grounds of sexual orientation and that
he would look at how the Safe to Learn guidance could be more widely promoted to
schools. He also stated that the inspection process should be picking up on issues
around inequality and bullying.

The Union will be continuing to work with the Government, the TUC and Stonewall to
address the issue of LGBT equality in schools and colleges.
FITNESS RESTRICTIONS DEBATED
The NASUWT has called for health regulations that restrict the ability of people with
disabilities to enter and remain in employment to be scrapped at the annual TUC
Disability Conference. The Union tabled a motion questioning the purpose and scope of
the fitness standards, which govern the medical and physical capacities required to enter
teaching, nursing and social care. The Union believes that the standards pose an
unnecessary barrier to entering these professions for workers with disabilities, a view
backed by the former Disability Rights Commission.

Delegates at the conference, held at Congress House in London, heard that rather than
barring skilled and talented workers from these professions, the onus should be placed
on employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate workers with
disabilities. Those working in teaching, nursing and social care are already subject to
stringent competency and professional standards, the NASUWT argues, which should
be sufficient to ensure suitability.

The TUC will be working with the NASUWT and other trade unions to press the
Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to introduce a
national framework that would replace the fitness standards and require employers to
take greater steps to recruit and retain staff with disabilities.

Conference delegates also discussed a range of other issues during the two-day event,
including the provision of improved support for workers with mental health problems and
tackling discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace.