I was delighted and honoured to have had the opportunity to speak at the rally for Education Equality: Gathering for Change today. While I am lucky to have the choice to send my child to his local denominational primary school and, better yet, the choice to send him to his local Educate Together school where he will be truly be included in all aspects of the school day, I don’t believe equality in education should be about luck. The myth of choice as the answer has to be tackled.
I was also delighted to see some brave teachers who came out today who believe that equality should also be given to teachers. In what other job would anyone be expected to pass on religious teachings as truth even if one doesn’t believe these messages? Currently a teacher can still be fired if it can be proved that they are undermining the religious ethos of the school. While LGBT teachers won a 10-year battle to stop schools discriminating against them on the basis of their sexuality, it follows that teachers should not be discriminated against on the basis of their faith.
Even if there is only one child who cannot take part in the full school day because of their religious values, it is wrong. Schools must be for equitable to all. Furthermore even if there is only one teacher in this country who is forced to indoctrinate children against their religious values, this is also wrong. We cannot treat the people who come to schools any differently to those who come to any other workplace.