Teachers face ‘ institutional racism claims’

Author: By Alison Kershaw, Press Association

About half of BME teachers say they have faced discrimination during their
careers, according to a study by Manchester University and Education Data
Surveys.

And seven in ten BME teachers and school heads believe it is harder for BME
teachers to gain leaderships jobs in schools.

The study examined the experiences of more than 500 BME teachers working in
state schools in England to analyse how discrimination affected their
careers and chances of getting senior posts.

It concluded that the majority of BME teachers did not believe that the
teaching profession was inclusive.

“Foremost, and most worrying, it is clear that the incidence of discrimination
reported by BME teachers and leaders within the school system is indicative
of an endemic culture of institutional racism,” it said.

The findings show that male BME teachers cite discrimination as the greatest
barrier to their leadership ambitions. Among women it was the sixth biggest
barrier.

Almost two thirds (65%) of African teachers said they had been discriminated
against, compared with two fifths (40%) of Pakistani teachers and a third
(34%) of Indian and Caribbean teachers.

Four fifths of those questioned said they were “very” or “reasonably”
ambitious, according to the report, which was commissioned by the National
College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services and the NASUWT
teaching union and first reported in the Times educational Supplement (TES)
today.

The biggest barrier to promotion for both men and women was workload.

Steve Munby, chief executive of the National College, said: “While there is no
doubt that some of those sampled had experienced discrimination, which is
obviously unacceptable, this does not mean that the system is
institutionally racist.

“Although discrimination on the grounds of race was cited by all as in the top
ten barriers to achieving career aspirations, workload and confidence were
the first and second most cited barriers overall.”

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “This report reveals the true
extent of the problem of racism and discrimination which, regrettably, is
still all too pervasive in our schools.

“Systematic ethnic monitoring at local authority and national levels must be
undertaken to enable BME teachers’ career paths to be tracked and the
barriers to their progress on the leadership scale to be identified and
removed.

“This research is an important start in unlocking the way in which
discrimination operates and should help in identifying what needs to be done
to create greater fairness and transparency in the way that teachers’ skills
and potential are recognised and rewarded.

“Institutional discrimination must not be allowed to flourish. It is robbing
the schools of too many talented and dedicated teachers and potential
leaders.”

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “It is
absolutely unacceptable for any teacher to be discriminated against because
of their race, age, gender or religion – there’s no place for it in any
workplace. Local authorities and employers must deal with it by law – no ifs
or buts.

“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.

“That is why we are, through the National College, developing training
programmes to support promising BME teachers develop leadership skills and
encourage them into leadership roles. With Ofsted, we have set up a scheme
for BME school leaders to shadow Ofsted inspectors to help boost confidence
and increase aspiration to progress to headship.”

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