Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has said head teachers faced with equal candidates for a teaching post should consider “positive discrimination”.
The head of the education watchdog told LBC Radio that the teaching staff of schools should reflect the ethnic diversity of their pupils.
“There needs to be a fair representation,” said Sir Michael.
I’m not at all sure what’s ‘fair’ about selecting someone simply because they are a particular colour, and not because they have a particular talent that you need, but still.
“If I had two people applying for a job of equal merit and I felt we needed to increase the number of teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds to the staff then I would apply positive discrimination – as long as the two people were of equal merit.”
But wait! Isn’t positive discrimination actually against the law?
… the Department for Education said that schools had to abide by equality legislation when appointing new members of staff.
This meant that “positive discrimination is not permitted“.
“However, schools, like any other employer, may take positive action to address under-representation of any particular group of persons who share a protected characteristic.”
According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, “positive action” means an employer can encourage people from under-represented groups to apply for jobs.
Right. So they can’t use it as a sort of ‘tie breaker’?
But it also says that it can be used in “tie-break” decisions when an employer has “a choice between two candidates who are as qualified as each other“.
So…positive discrimination – of the type that he’s suggesting he’d do – isn’t illegal then?