Teaching ban for BNP members to be examined

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Indy Politics

Any teacher found to be a member of the British National Party (BNP) faces being banned from the classroom after the Government announced it is to launch a fresh attempt to stamp out racism from Britain's schools.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, has asked the former chief inspector of schools, Maurice Smith, to conduct a review of measures designed to protect pupils from racism. Aides confirmed yesterday that his report, which will be completed by January, will consider a total ban on BNP membership.

While policemen and prison workers are banned from becoming members of the BNP, affiliation to the party is not outlawed for teachers. A list of the party's members, leaked on the internet last year, included the names of 15 teachers. "If there is a will to introduce a complete ban, that is something we can do," said a Government source.

Teachers' unions have been lobbying for a change to teaching contracts that would outlaw BNP membership. However, the General Teaching Council for England (GTC), which oversees the contracts, had warned that a total ban on members of an official political party could lead to a legal challenge.

But in his letter to Mr Smith, the Schools Secretary signalled a hardening of the Government's determination to block BNP members from the teaching profession, demanding the review examine "a case for affiliation to such an organisation being grounds for barring from the profession". Mr Balls told delegates in his speech at the Labour Party conference yesterday there was "no place for racism of any kind".

The fresh review of the rules follows the election of two BNP members to the European parliament in June. Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said the announcement was a "major step forward" in fighting racism.