A new plan promoted by the UK government offers schools the opportunity to receive extra funding in order to hire and promote gay and transgender teachers.
Critics of the policy refer to it as “profoundly misguided” and argue that it will result in head teachers promoting some teachers over others regardless of ability. They feel the plan will increase discrimination while pushing aside equality as skills and talents are ignored.
Schools would be able to receive a grant totaling close to $45,000 to be used on training for existing teachers or adding new staff members to close existing diversity gaps, which currently include low numbers of gay or older staff members.
Backed by the Department for Education, the plan promotes applications based on protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act of 2010, including age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy, race, religion, and sexual orientation, writes Shari Miller for The Daily Mail.
One example showed a school receiving funding to hire additional male teachers or women who had given birth. The school had been found to have too many older female teachers on staff who did not have children. The same school had applied for money in order to hire additional older staff members after an “audit identified the increasing number of young staff promoted to middle leader positions.”
A separate example found a Catholic school seeking help in paying for specialist training in religion for senior staff members.
Schools are welcome to apply for funding to help close such diversity gaps, with the condition that teachers must be promoted within 12 months.
However, David Green, the founder of think-tank Civitas, argues that the plan will come at a cost for students as teachers will not be promoted based on their skill levels.
Mr Green told the Telegraph: “The assumption behind the Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund is that there has been discrimination if there is not proportionate representation of any of the above groups in leadership roles.
He went on to say he would do away with the entire program and put the money toward placing more teachers into programs that help children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
David Nuttall, a Conservative MP, agrees, calling the program “absolute nonsense.” He told Kate McCann of The Telegraph that the idea is discriminatory in nature as one group is guaranteed special treatment over another.
Labour’s shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said the money would be better spent elsewhere, such as the diversification of school leadership in an effort to become more representative of the communities served.
A Department for Education spokesperson later added: “This programme encourages able teachers with potential, who might otherwise not have the confidence to compete for such roles without targeted intervention, to move into leadership roles.”