Members of far-right groups may face teaching ban

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The Independent Online

The Government is consulting teachers' leaders over banning members of the British National Party and other far-right organisations from the profession.

The Government is consulting teachers' leaders over banning members of the British National Party and other far-right organisations from the profession.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers wanted a new clause inserted in all teachers' contracts barring them from membership of the BNP, the National Front or Combat 18 - a neo-Nazi group. Chris Keates, the union's general secretary, said: "Those who subscribe to a racist and fascist agenda have no place in the teaching profession."

Ms Keates asked the Department for Education and Skills (DES) to follow the lead of the Home Office which has put a clause into the contracts of police, prison and probation officers barring them from membership of the three organisations.

A DES spokeswoman said: "Racism and intolerance have no place in schools. This is an interesting proposal which we will discuss further with NASUWT and the rest of the teaching profession."

She also held out the prospect of disciplinary action against far-right teachers by the General Teaching Council, the profession's regulatory body.

"Schools are subject to the Race Relations Act and must have equal opportunities policies in place," she added. "They also have the power to discipline teachers acting outside the ethos and values of the school and the GTC can act against teacher conduct that could bring the profession into disrepute."

Teachers' leaders claim there is growing evidence that members of the BNP and other far-right organisations are trying to infiltrate public-sector unions.

A spokesman for the BNP said the party did have teacher and lecturer members and they were trying to secure top union positions - but declined to say how many were involved.

The union made its appeal after one of its members, Simon Smith, a maths teacher in Solihull, was suspended from his job after becoming a BNP candidate in last year's European election.

The union is now seeking legal advice as to whether it can bar him from union membership.

Mr Smith, who the union says is now working as a supply teacher, also stood as a BNP candidate in this month's general election in Warley in the West Midlands.

He claimed in an interview that there were dozens of far-right activists working in education across the country.

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