Catholic teaching certificate ‘a barrier’ to fair employment: Robbie Butler

The continuing use of a Catholic-specific teaching qualification in Northern Ireland is a barrier to fair employment that should be removed, Robbie Butler has said.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 6:50 pm
The Catholic teaching certificate has been described as being 'without merit' in a university report

The Ulster Unionist MLA was commenting after a new University of Ulster (UU) report found there has been “limited progress” in complying with a previous Department for Education recommendation that: “CCMS (Council for Catholic Maintained Schools) may wish to consider reviewing the requirement for the certificate for all [Catholic] nursery and primary posts.”

One Protestant teacher who took part in the UU study described the Certificate in Religious Education as being “without educational merit or practical justification”.

The report is one of a number produced as part of the university’s Transforming Education project.

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Robbie Butler MLA

It found that a small number of Protestant trainee teachers successfully undertake the certificate, but concerns remain about its usefulness in preparing non-Catholics teachers to support pupils adhering to “Catholic religious practices and rituals”

Another teacher suggested that the certificate requirement may be concealing an ulterior motive.

They said: “When you are in a Catholic school and you are advertising for a teacher you have to put that thing in about the Catholic certificate so it’s highly unlikely you will get any non-Catholics applying for the job.”

Mr Butler, his party’s education spokesperson, said: “We need to take a fundamental look at our education system and reflect on whether it facilitates the type of society we want to build.

“There should be no barriers to teachers working in any area of our education system.”

He added: “I think the continued use of the Catholic teachers’ certificate, along with the existence of the exemption from the fair employment legislation for teaching appointments, demonstrates how far we still have to go in addressing the divided nature of our education system.”