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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Union concern over BNP governor
Tony North
Tony North: No politics inside "school gates"
A teachers' union has raised concerns about a school governor who is a candidate for the British National Party.

Tony North, who is standing for the far-right party at the European elections, is a parent governor at Furzeham County Primary in Brixham.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said his influence as school governor should be closely monitored.

BNP Devon chairman Mr North says that politics do not enter the job.

'Divisive force'

The call came as a secondary school teacher chosen as a BNP candidate in the European elections, was suspended from a school in Solihull, West Midlands after protests by the teachers' union NASUWT.

The NUT has already voiced its concerns about the BNP taking school governor posts in order to get a foothold in schools.

Governors can influence the appointment of teachers and headteachers.

John Bangs, head of education at the NUT, said: "The BNP has started targeting schools and it is a major problem.

"We do not want to see BNP governors, because we do not want any potentially divisive force in schools.

"Parents need to ask themselves what they expect from governors and whether they are right for all the children in the school."

The NUT are the ones who are bringing party politics into this
Tony North

He added: "He was elected, but now it is a question of being very careful and monitoring whatever contribution he makes."

Mr North, 56, BNP candidate for the elections in June, was elected last year by fellow governors at the school, which his two children attend.

He told BBC News Online: "The NUT's attitude shows a lack of knowledge about the governors' jobs.

"You leave your party behind when you step inside the school gates.

"My last role was to arrange an allotment for the children to grow vegetables.

"The NUT are the ones who are bringing party politics into this."

'Democratic process'

He denied that the BNP was targeting school governor posts.

"It is absolute nonsense. We have to go through a democratic process like everyone else."

Head teacher Andrew Kinder said in a statement: "I can confirm that Mr North is a parent governor at the school, but I'm not prepared to discuss his private or political views.

"The school has in place a diversity and inclusion policy which includes issues such as racism, and I would expect all members of the school governors board to support this policy, irrespective of their political views."

Education authority Torbay Council said it had received no complaints from parents about the appointment of governors at the school.

Appointments were the responsibility of the school and it had full confidence in the school's judgement.

A spokeswoman said: "We have no powers in this respect.

"Any breach of school policy would be a matter for the head and the governors."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said members of the BNP were free to stand for election to school governor posts, but all governors had to comply with guidelines.

"All school governors, once elected or appointed, must comply with the laws of the land, including the legislation on race discrimination.

"Governing bodies have a specific duty to promote equality of opportunity and to promote good relations between persons of different racial groups."

BNP candidate suspended by school
28 Apr 04  |  West Midlands
Teachers act against 'racists'
13 Apr 04  |  Education

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