Trevor put forward the proposal in an amendment to a UUP motion which called for the law to be changed to remove the exemption from fair employment laws for the appointment of teachers. Alliance supported the motion but put forward an amendment for an interim measure until the law can be changed. The motion was passed.
Trevor Lunn MLA said: “Alliance respects the Catholic education system and understands that there are specific requirements for the training of teachers who will be providing religious education in this setting. There is however a question of equality of access for teachers and ensuring that they are able to apply for all teaching positions. I hope that St Mary’s will work with Stranmillis to ensure that all student teachers have access to this course without having to take part in long distance learning from Glasgow University.
“Any professional teacher, regardless of background, should be treated as equally capable of teaching in any type of school – including Catholic Maintained. That is an absolute requirement, and any party taking itself seriously as a party of equality would recognise it. Restricted opportunities make equality of opportunity even more important, and mean there is an urgent need for intervention and change in both policy and law.
“Alliance fully backs this position but as we felt that any change to the law wouldn’t be done quickly, we put forward this interim measure. By allowing students from all teacher training institutions to acquire the Certificate in Religious Education in the short term, we will enable equality of access for all students to all schools. I am disappointed that our proposal was not supported by the Assembly but hope that the law will be changed quickly to remove the exemption.
“The fact that we have to put forward such a measure shows the fragmented nature of our teacher training infrastructure. I fully support my colleague Minister Farry as he seeks to further reform this system.”