The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) is terrified by the current attempts by the British National Party (BNP) to infiltrate the governing bodies of schools in multi-ethnic communities, its deputy general secretary, Gerry Bartlett, has said.
Mr Bartlett told delegates at this year's Lib Dem conference that the NASUWT remained implacably opposed to the BNP as well as other extremist parties. But he revealed a genuine fear that the BNP has been trying to "secure positions on the governing bodies of schools that serve multi-ethnic communities".
The teacher's union has been campaigning for four years for an amendment to the teachers' contract to prevent those who are members of the BNP and other far-right organisations from being employed as teachers. The proposed contractual change for teachers would mean that membership of a political party such as the BNP would prevent a qualified teacher from being able to take up a post in a school. The NASUWT believes this would bring the teaching profession in line with the prison service and the police force and ensure children and young people are protected from exposure to the views of far right organisations.
In a recent blog post on the Guardian's Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said " If racists and fascists have no place in these institutions [the prisons service and police force] then they have no place in schools or indeed any other public service".
Such a change to the conditions of employment for teachers, she argued, would "prevent the role of the teacher from being used as a cloak of respectability for those who engage in such activities".
At last night's fringe meeting Mr Barlett expressed dismay at the lack of support for the union's campaign and proposals.
"We equally don't understand why there isn't greater support for our call to British National party members from being banned from teaching just as they are banned from employment in the prison service and the police force," he added.