New law to end teacher discrimination in Northern Ireland a step closer

20 January, 2022

A Bill that would end teacher discrimination in Northern Ireland has passed its first stage in the Assembly, bringing welcome progress to Northern Ireland Humanists’ campaign for a single education system free of religious bias. If the Fair Employment (Teachers) Bill, introduced to the assembly by Chris Lyttle MLA, becomes law it will mean that schools would no longer be able to discriminate on religious grounds when appointing or promoting teachers.

The employment of teachers across Northern Ireland is currently exempt from fair employment law meaning schools can legally discriminate using their faith  in order not to employ or promote a teacher. Since launching six years ago, Northern Ireland Humanists has been campaigning against this discriminatory practice.

Last May, MLAs voted unanimously to pass a motion by UUP MLA Robbie Butler to bring forth legislation that would end faith-based school employment discrimination. Northern Ireland Humanists also responded to Chris Lyttle’s consultation on the Bill, and encouraged its members and supporters to respond.

Last year Dr James Nelson from Queens University and Dr Catherine Stapleton from Mary Immaculate College released a report on how non-religious teachers navigate employment and promotion in schools on the island of Ireland. They found many teachers either withdrawing from applications or having to ‘suppress… views to get by’.

Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator commented:

‘This is encouraging to see. We talk a lot about schoolchildren and making sure they are learning and playing together, but it’s just important for teachers to also be integrated. We can’t advocate for inclusive education if the teaching staff are still segregated along community lines and minority belief teachers are cast to one side.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator at or phone 07918 975795.

Read our new item on a teachers’ union voting to end teacher discrimination.

Read our most recent news item on the family winning the right to challenge law on Christian RE and worship in Northern Ireland schools.

Read our recent article on the massive rise in non-religious identity in Northern Ireland.

Read our news item on the High Court ruling saying the UK Government broke the law in excluding humanism from school curriculum.

Read our piece on the successful legal challenge taken to secure a meaningful alternative to collective worship in England.

Read more about our work on religious education & collective worship.

Northern Ireland Humanists is part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.