Teachers at Catholic schools who are gay or remarry face the sack under new rules governing 'life choices'Guidance issued to Catholic schools sets out 'substantive life choices which are incompatible' with the religion's teachingsHead teachers, principals, deputy heads and heads of RE risk being 'removed from office' if rules are breachedNational Secular Society asks Education Secretary to intervene but department insists it is a matter for schools
Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor
14:45 GMT, 1 February 2013
17:57 GMT, 1 February 2013
Teachers and governors at Catholic schools could be sacked if they are gay, remarry or live with a partner without tying the knot.
New advice from the church warns there are ‘substantive life choices’ which are incompatible with the Church's teachings.
Education Secretary Michael today rebuffed calls to intervene, insisting schools only had to act within the law.
Guidance issued to Catholic schools, such as St. John Fisher Catholic Primary School in Erith, south east London, covers the relationships which teachers and govenors are allowed to have
Head teachers, principals, deputy heads and heads of RE and most governors at Catholic schools are required to be practising Catholics. They must also conduct themselves in a way which does not conflict with the Church, the guidance says.
It states: ‘There are also substantive life choices which are incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church and which may be detrimental or prejudicial to the religious ethos and character of a Catholic school.’
These could include:
Getting married in a non-Catholic church, register office or other place without special dispensationRemarrying after divorce‘Maintaining a partnership of intimacy with another person’ outside of marriage approved by the Church ‘where this would, at least in the public forum, carry the presumption from their public behaviour of this being a non-chaste relationship’Publishing or distributing materials that are contrary to Gospel values and the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Failure to abide by the rules could affect ‘their ability to govern or to lead and model Catholic life and faith with ecclesial integrity may cease to exist’, it adds.
Breaching the guidance would trigger and investigation and in some circumstances ‘may necessitate a member of the governing authority of a Catholic school being removed from office or disciplinary action being taken against someone appointed to a key post’.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has insisted it is up to schools to decide who to employ
The National Secular Society (NSS) said the lawful, private activities of teachers ‘should not be any business of prying employers’.
It said it had written to Mr Gove asking for the document to be withdrawn.
But the Department for Education said today: ‘This is a matter for schools and their governors.
‘Faith schools can consider whether a person’s conduct is in line with their religious values when dismissing teachers. However schools must also comply with employment law.’
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the NSS, said: ‘A growing percentage of teachers in Roman Catholic schools are not Catholics, and a significant proportion of Catholic teachers will have made life choices which are deemed incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
‘However good they are as teachers, both groups have cause to sleep less easily as the Church becomes ever more intolerant of lifestyles that are becoming commonplace,’ he told the Times Educational Supplement.
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Service told the magazine: ‘The recently revised document Christ at the Centre offers guidance to governing bodies, staff and parents about the ethos and values of Catholic schools.
‘It is a matter for governing bodies and dioceses to make staffing decisions based on local situations.’