Opinion Former Article

Smith Report is a 'golden opportunity squandered' says the NASUWT

Commenting on the publication of the Maurice Smith Review of the measures to prevent the promotion of racism by teachers and the wider workforce in schools, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said:

"The NASUWT has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban the BNP and other far right and fascist organisations from working as teachers.

"Tens of thousands of teachers, headteachers and school governors have already signed the NASUWT petition to prevent members of the BNP from working as teachers.

"I warmly welcomed the Secretary of State's decision in September 2009 to initiate this review.

"I do believe, however, that Maurice Smith has squandered a golden opportunity to advance the cause of ensuring good race relations in schools.

"The Report is woefully inadequate and littered with contradictions.

"The Report identifies some of the equalities measures that should be in place in schools but fails to provide any evidence about how effective these have been and is complacent about the dangers schools and children face.

"Maurice Smith seems to have focused, to a point of obsession, on the number of incidents.

"Most right minded people would say that keeping a running tally of the number of racist incidents in schools would seem to be perverse. One incident is one too many. How many incidents would there have to be before Maurice Smith would be persuaded that further action is needed?

"The idea that a person who signs up to membership of the BNP can simply leave these beliefs at the school gate and behave as a 'professional' when they walk into school is risible.

"A principled stand was required. This is a matter of social justice, staff well-being and child protection.

"I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State will keep this as a live issue and there will be a further opportunity for review in September 2010.

"The NASUWT's Campaign will continue."


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