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Black and minority ethnic teachers – where are you?

According to recent research by UCL Institute of Education in London (reported in The Guardian December 2020), 65% of pupils and 86% of teachers in English schools are white British. Analysis of the 2018 School Workforce Census and related administrative school census datasets, found that 46% of all schools in England had no BAME teachers at all.


The analysis also found that while half of schools (53%) had BAME teaching assistants, a quarter (26%) had no BAME staff at all, and only 16% employed more than a fifth of their teachers from BAME groups. [1]


I go to hundreds of universities, colleges and training centres and meet thousands of student and new teachers, but hardly anywhere do I see a proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic - so-called 'BAME' trainee teachers - that reflects the diversity of modern Britain.

My observations may not be a statistically valid perception but it’s what I see, and I see an awful lot of students at a lot of training providers every year.


Given that the proportion of black and minority ethnic people in the population as a whole is about 9%, (according to the UK national census in 2011) one would expect to see around that proportion entering the teaching profession each year – at least one would hope so. Indeed one might argue that the target should be set higher given that the national proportion of 'BAME' pupils in school is currently about 15%.


Just to give you an example, in the last year I’ve been to five towns and cities in England with large 'BAME' profiles. In one place, I spoke to about 45 students of whom 5 were from ‘visible minority’ backgrounds – that’s not bad I suppose. But at another there were over 70 new teachers, and only four visible minorities. In the other three – large cities with diverse populations - there were over 200 trainee teachers in each audience and there was not a single black person in the audience.


I know from experience that universities and training providers are trying very hard to target and recruit from minority communities and the DfE sets them challenging recruitment targets. But I also know they include Irish and eastern European trainees (who are almost always white) as 'minority ethic' (which they are allowed to do) to ‘massage’ their recruitment target of 'BAME' students.


Are 'BAME' young people not interested in becoming teachers?


Is teaching not perceived as an aspirational profession by 'BAME' communities?


Are 'BAME' teaching applicants somehow disadvantaged in the increasingly competitive selection criteria?


Are 'BAME' students and teachers meeting racism in teaching that isn't apparent in other professions?


There are many questions but answers are frustratingly patchy. For example, we know how many 'BAME' students are entering the profession but don’t know accurately how many teachers currently define themselves as 'BAME'. Some research has estimated the total is less than 4% out of a teaching population of over 500,000.


And then there are other issues for 'BAME' teachers that need considering – like career progression, access to cpd, promotion opportunities and seniority?


And what about the other minorities in teaching? How do they fare?


Men (in primary) for a start...


What's your story?


Tell me, I’m really interested.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and head teacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk.


You may be interested in his course in‘The Foundations of Professionalism in Teaching’– a 3-module course with over 4.5 hours of HD quality video presentations, additional course reading and materials, self assessment exercises and completion certificates.


[1] ‘Making Progress’ is a report by Dr Antonina Tereshchenko at UCL Institute of Education, London, December 2020.


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