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'Age bias' case teacher loses court battle

By Alan Erwin

A school teacher has lost a High Court challenge to a scheme aimed at securing up to 120 jobs for newly-qualified members of the profession in Northern Ireland.

Strabane man Dylan Early (36) claimed he was being unlawfully excluded from applying for any vacancies created by the initiative because of his greater experience. But a judge ruled that indirect discrimination against him on the ground of his age was justified by the legitimate aim of providing opportunities for those starting out as teachers.

Since he qualified as a teacher in 2009 Mr Early has worked almost continuously in temporary positions at colleges.

He issued judicial review proceedings against the Department of Education's decision to implement the Investing in the Teaching Workforce scheme, an initiative that enables teachers over the age of 55 to take early retirement, and be replaced by only those who graduated since 2012.

Mr Early's lawyers challenged the scheme, claiming it discriminated on the grounds of his age and experience.

Attorney General John Larkin QC, representing the department, countered that the scheme was rational and time-limited.

Mr Justice Colton ruled: "I have come to the view that this scheme is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim."

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