Ethnic minority teachers ‘suffer from institutional racism’

6 Nov 09
A culture of institutional racism is preventing ethnic minority teachers from taking leadership roles, the UK’s largest teaching union has said
By Jaimie Kaffash

6 November 2009

A culture of institutional racism is preventing ethnic minority teachers from taking leadership roles, the UK’s largest teaching union has said.

The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers and the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services published their research today. The study shows that 44% of ethnic minority teachers said they had experienced discrimination based on their race. Seventy per cent of respondees said it was harder for ethnic minority teachers to secure leadership roles while those who did were disproportionately concentrated in urban areas.

The NASUWT says there needs to be more effective monitoring of teachers to reverse this trend.

Jennifer Moses, the national official for equality and training, told Public Finance:  ‘We need to see what the picture is. We think it is a travesty that there is no effective monitoring or workforce  planning of teachers in terms of their career progression, no planning broken down by ethnicity, gender, etc.’

She added that positive action – in the form of special courses and training for ethnic minority teachers  – was ‘the only way you can enforce a level-playing field for all teachers’.

The Association of School and College Leaders, however, said that institutional racism in teaching was not as endemic as in other professions. Deputy general secretary  Martin Ward said: ‘Discrimination should not be tolerated anywhere but, if anything, there is more equality and understanding in schools than in many other workplaces.’ But, he added: ‘The ASCL has long been concerned that there are very few black school leaders and more proactive work needs to be done.’

The report also shows that ethnic minority teachers believe that workload is the main barrier to entering management roles, which is the same identified by non- ethnic minority teachers. ‘The government must do more to lessen the burden on school leaders if it is to encourage high quality teachers into leadership roles,’ Ward said.

A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokeswoman said: ‘We know there is more to do to break down the barriers stopping black and minority ethnic teachers from achieving their full potential, as the report highlights.’

She added that the department had been formulating training programmes through the National College to ‘support BME teachers to develop leadership skills and encourage them into leadership roles’.

‘Let’s not forget the progress that has been made over the past decade. Given it takes around ten years for head teachers to come through, today’s crop of heads started their careers in the mid-1990s when there was no support or career structure in place for teachers full stop,’ she said.

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