Clear As Mud..?

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has said head teachers faced with equal candidates for a teaching post should consider “positive discrimination”.

The head of the education watchdog told LBC Radio that the teaching staff of schools should reflect the ethnic diversity of their pupils.

“There needs to be a fair representation,” said Sir Michael.

I’m not at all sure what’s ‘fair’ about selecting someone simply because they are a particular colour, and not because they have a particular talent that you need, but still.

“If I had two people applying for a job of equal merit and I felt we needed to increase the number of teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds to the staff then I would apply positive discrimination – as long as the two people were of equal merit.”

But wait! Isn’t positive discrimination actually against the law?

… the Department for Education said that schools had to abide by equality legislation when appointing new members of staff.

This meant that “positive discrimination is not permitted“.

“However, schools, like any other employer, may take positive action to address under-representation of any particular group of persons who share a protected characteristic.”


According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, “positive action” means an employer can encourage people from under-represented groups to apply for jobs.

Right. So they can’t use it as a sort of ‘tie breaker’?

But it also says that it can be used in “tie-break” decisions when an employer has “a choice between two candidates who are as qualified as each other“.

So…positive discrimination – of the type that he’s suggesting he’d do – isn’t illegal then?

13 comments for “Clear As Mud..?

  1. January 12, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Here we go again with this “positive discrimination” rubbish.
    It’s quite simple either you can do the job or you can’t, if you have 2 candidates of equal merit of different ethnic backgrounds then decide who would give a better education to the children, but you should never ever give someone a job just because of their colour or religion it’s ludicrous.
    It’s not about colour or race it’s about ability to give quality (in this case ) education, and to give those children the best chance in life.

  2. Penseivat
    January 12, 2015 at 11:52 am

    The term ‘positive discrimination’ is an oxymoron. You can’t have ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ discrimination, just discrimination. In the case referred to above, I would have given each candidate an hour to prepare a lesson plan and put them in front of a class. The candidate who delivers the best lesson gets the job. Problem solved.

    • Miss Chips
      January 12, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Ah, but in the parallel universe where these people operate, there is no contradiction; just as racism is deemed to be a one-way street, it is impossible for anyone outside the oppressed minority to be a victim of discrimination.

      The desired promotion is thus achieved without anyone being discriminated against – well, anyone who matters, at least – and can therefore be described as positive.

      • January 18, 2015 at 6:42 am

        Sadly true… :0

  3. January 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Why stop at the ‘ethnic diversity of their pupils’? Why not hire teachers who are as unknowledgeable as their pupils too.

    Oh…. I think they already do that.

    • Miss Chips
      January 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      A colleague who has recently been on a course for Learning Support teachers tells me that, during the first session, those present were instructed to spend ten minutes discussing and identifying their own ‘special educational needs’.

    • January 18, 2015 at 6:42 am


  4. Ed P
    January 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Apart from the “positive” ‘scrim nonsense, why does Sir Michael say the teaching staff should “reflect the ethnic diversity of the pupils”? Nonsense: a good teacher may have any skin colour or personal beliefs – it’s irrelevant to their teaching. But I would insist the teacher speaks good English.

    • January 18, 2015 at 6:43 am

      I would love to know why, at my local Tube station, they choose the member of staff with the most impenetrable African accent to man the PA system!

  5. Viscount Rectum
    January 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    We all know what it means its Common Pupose speak for anti white anti English, its psycho-indoctrination, look up the ten commandments of Common Pupose. Cameron is a graduate also a founder member of the commie Anti-Facist legue.

  6. January 12, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    If appointments were to be determined predominantly by the ‘need’ to reflect the ethnic ‘diversity’ of children in most of our large cities’ schools – particularly primary schools – then you may as well wave goodbye to a career in teaching if you happen to be English. Schools should separate native English-speaking children from non-English-speaking children so that the former can flourish, whilst the latter are compelled to acquire the rudiments of the English language before being permitted to attempt to learn anything else.

  7. Frank
    January 13, 2015 at 9:57 am

    It’s a false dilemma. It’s like the old story of the chicken that was placed exactly half way between two equal piles of corn and starved to death. It wouldn’t happen, would it? You can’t have two people of exactly equal merit, one will always be better than the other. If a recruiter can’t determine which one that is he should get another job.

    • Mudplugger
      January 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Dead right, Frank. In my many years of recruiting I never encountered a pair of absolutely identical applicants. Their paper-qualifications may have been identical but recruitment is about discerning all the softer attributes, those not shouted out on a CV, to give a complete picture of the individual: a total picture which is always unique.

      Over the years, I recruited women, ethnic minorities, disabled, gays, whatever – but always solely on their ability to perform in the target role. That’s how it should always be done.

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