Thursday, February 26, 2009

New teachers' code threatens Christian teachers

Action: please take a few minutes to complete the survey - the new code is undergoing consultation by the General Teaching Council. The key point here is that instead of being fair to pupils and not demeaning them (as the old code demands), the proposed code expects teachers to promote a particular political agenda, that of 'equality and diversity'. As we have learnt to our cost, promoting (as opposed to tolerating it or respecting it etc.) 'diversity' means encouraging non-traditional lifestyles and so on - a totally inappropriate thing for a teacher to do, even according to the government: he Government’s own Sex and Relationship Education Guidance says that it is “inappropriate teaching” to promote a sexual orientation.

From Christian Concern for our Nation: The General Teaching Council for England published their new draft Code of Conduct and Practice for teachers in England in November 2008. Teachers are required to sign a clause saying that they will adhere to the Code before they can be registered and the Code is used as a standard by which teachers are judged by the GTC or by Employment Tribunals, as well as by schools and Local Education Authorities.

It is of concern that the Code requires teachers to “promote equality and diversity in all their professional relationships” in Principle 4. This implies that teachers will be required to promote other religions and/or sexual practices outside marriage and it could lead to censorship. We believe that teachers should be required to respect pupils, parents and colleagues from other backgrounds, but should not be required to promote other religions and sexual orientations such as homosexuality that are contrary to their beliefs. The ordinary meanings of the words “equality” and “diversity” should not cause a problem, but recent cases have shown how these terms have been interpreted to require promotion of values contrary to Christian beliefs. For example, a nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended for offering to pray for a patient and a registrar, Lillian Ladele, was dismissed for refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies. It is important to respond to this survey because as a result of this draft Code, Christian teachers could face disciplinary action or even dismissal for practising their faith.

Please take a few minutes to defend the freedoms of Christian teachers by responding to the survey.

Responding to the Survey Anyone can respond to the General Teaching Council for
England’s survey on their draft Code of Conduct for teachers. Before you respond, you need to read the draft Code of Conduct and practice, which can be accessed here:

Replies are needed by Friday 27th February 2009.

The questionnaire is anonymous. Answers can be changed by going backwards and
forwards between questions and only once the ‘submit’ button is clicked will
the entire survey be sent. The website estimates that users should be able to
complete the survey in 15 minutes.

The survey’s website advises you that if you experience technical difficulties
completing the survey you can contact Jo Sloman on 020 7239 7823 and that if
you wish to talk to someone about the survey you can contact Kate Willcocks at
OPM by e-mail: or by phone: 020 7239 0875.

Contents of the Survey Section A provides different questions depending on your
interest in the survey. You will therefore be asked whether you are a teacher,
a parent, a governor, a pupil and so on. You will also be asked what your
length of service is, or the age of your children as appropriate. All
participants are required to state whether they are responding from within
England and from which region.

Section B asks questions about the Code itself and offers the opportunity for
general comments regarding the introduction to the Code (box B2); the content
of the Code (box B5) and the language or tone of the code (box B7).

Section C gives you an opportunity to make general comments.

You can see our responses to the questions that ask for comments if you click on
this link .
Please answer the questions as you see fit, including a selection of our points
if you wish, but it is best if you try and put them in your own words. You may
forward this e-mail to others who may wish to respond to the survey, but please
do not post it on any website. You will need to fill in the survey at the
following link:

We suggest that you use some of the following points in your answers:

All teachers need to be registered, so this means that Christian teachers, who
have to agree to abide by the Code, will be signing up for an equality and
diversity agenda that is contrary to their core beliefs.

A teacher’s job is to teach, it is not to be an equality and diversity officer.

The Government’s own Sex and Relationship Education Guidance says that it is
“inappropriate teaching” to promote a sexual orientation, it is therefore
doubly inappropriate to be disciplined for not doing so.

The new draft Code should take the approach of the current Code in setting down
minimum standards only.

Much of what is in the new draft Code (when compared to the current Code) should
be contained in non-disciplinary guidance. Teachers should not be disciplined
for acting on their values, but only when they bring the profession into
disrepute, such as by acquiring a criminal conviction or by demeaning a pupil.

The code should not cover matters of promoting higher professional standards,
which should be in a separate advisory non-disciplinary guide.

The code on equality and diversity could be used to victimise Christian
teachers, who do not wish to promote a sexual orientation and other religions
contrary to their beliefs.

The cases of the nurse Caroline Petrie and of Jennie Cain, a primary school
receptionist who is being investigated by her school after her 5 year-old
daughter spoke to friends about Jesus, show how the equality and diversity
agenda can be used to victimise Christians.

All current references to equality and diversity should be removed from the
draft Code and replaced by the wording on these issues in the current Code to
show that teachers’ duties amount to treating those from diverse backgrounds
with respect by refraining from demeaning them—the correct scope for
disciplinary matters.

The equality and diversity promotion aspects of the code could be used gradually
to remove from the teaching profession Christian teachers and prospective
Christian teachers, because they will be unable, in good conscience, to comply
with its requirements. The Christian ethos motivates many of the profession’s
most valued, loving, caring teachers. In short there is a danger that the
profession will lose many talented and experienced teachers who are currently
an asset to the profession.

Teachers should not be required to promote what may amount to a
politically-correct view that is contrary to their consciences and beliefs.
“Diversity” means respecting the diversity of staff as well as that of pupils
and/or parents.

The Code is used for the registration of all teachers and their discipline so it
is important to ensure that it is restricted to minimum standards only.

Christian teachers and prospective Christian teachers would have great
difficulty in agreeing to Principle 4 that requires the promotion of equality
and diversity; such issues should not be included.

There is already growing concern at the victimisation of Christian teachers in
schools in relation to diversity issues, including a head teacher who tried to
apply the statutory requirement for collective worship in assemblies, (see the
following article from The Daily Telegraph:
-in-schools-why-were-losing-our-religion.html) and this code will make such
matters much worse.

The code could result in those who wish to attack both Christian teachers and
Christianity in schools having the ammunition to do so using terms such as
“equality”, “diversity” and “inclusion” as a pretext. These terms are causing
the marginalisation of Christianity.

The effect of this code could be gradually to remove Christian teachers and
those of other faiths from the teaching profession.

There is a difference between teaching about other faiths and promoting them.

The new draft Code should be reformulated along the lines of the current Code,
which serves its purpose as a disciplinary code well, because it restricts
itself to disciplinary matters. Much of the material in the draft Code should
be in a separate code of advisory, non-disciplinary status, covering
professional standards. For example, teachers showing the core values of
“excellence and continual development” and “commitment and empathy” are
professional standards to strive to achieve, but failure to attain them should
not warrant disciplinary measures.

Andrea Minichiello Williams
Christian Concern for our Nation

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen