Opinion: In My View - Schools and the BNP

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In the 21st century, there should be no place for racism, or for the far right's politics of hate, in our schools.

The Maurice Smith review was set up to assess what measures are needed to make this a reality. But, by failing to ban the most obvious measure -banning BNP members from working in schools - the review is a missed opportunity.

Membership of the BNP is incompatible with being part of the team delivering education. In fact, the union sees it as incompatible with delivering any public services at all. Our communities are diverse, and multi-racial and public service workers must be able to treat everyone equally.

Schools should be places where children learn values of equality, fairness and inclusion - values that will help create a just and fair society. Allowing BNP members to peddle their message of hate, or the freedom to discriminate against those from ethnic minorities, flies in the face of these principles.

The second missed opportunity of the review was the little attention it paid to the role of support staff. In today's schools, support staff play a significant role in delivering education. They can also have a closer, one-on-one relationship with the pupils they work with. Support staff monitor break-times and areas such as libraries. If left unchecked, support staff who are BNP members could let racist bullying take place.

The review could have also gone one step further, and highlighted the role support staff can play in encouraging community cohesion. Research shows that support staff more closely reflect the community they serve, than teachers. Given the right training, support staff could use this advantage to spread a more inclusive atmosphere in the school and beyond.

Last year UNISON health members voted to keep the BNP out of the NHS. It has already been banned for members of the police and prison officers, for very good reasons. Children deserve to be protected from the influence of the BNP, and UNISON will be pressing for this when the promised review of the guidance set out by Maurice Smith takes place next year.

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