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Racism blights teachers lives

GLASS CEILING: Black teachers face significant barriers, according to a new educational report

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION in the education system is deep-rooted, institutionalised and is blighting the lives and careers of black teachers, according to a new report.

Visible Minorities, Invisible Teachers, published jointly by teachers’ union NASUWT and the Runnymede Trust, sets out the challenges faced by teachers from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and the actions which need to be taken by all involved in the education system to address racism.

The report’s authors surveyed 12,000 teachers, and found that twice the proportion of BAME teachers reported they had experienced discrimination in the workplace in the last 12 months (31 per cent) compared to their white counterparts. A higher percentage of BAME teachers (79 per cent compared to 64 per
cent) believed that they were not paid at a level ‘commensurate with their skills and experiences’, and nearly two thirds of BAME teachers (64 per cent) had experienced ‘verbal abuse by pupils’ compared to just over half (51 per cent) of their white peers. The survey echoes that of similar findings from previous polls.


In 2015, NASUWT published the results of a smaller poll of 450 BAME teachers which found that 54 per cent had been subject to discrimination or harassment at work because of their ethnic background.

The survey also found that 60 per cent of those questioned believed schools did not respect BAME teachers. The findings of Visible Minorities, Invisible Teachers come following growing concerns about the recruitment and retention of teachers in the
UK education system overall. According to Dr Zubaida Haque, research associate at the Runnymede Trust, the shortage of black teachers meant school staff did not reflect the increasing diversity of pupils.

She said: “The review of the evidence shows us that black and ethnic minority teachers are running into closed doors at almost every step of the way in a profession that is already beleaguered by funding cuts and red tape.

“There is a chronic short- age of BAME teachers in an education system where there is increasing diversity among its pupils, but the combination of an ineffective government recruitment strategy and in- creasing career dissatisfaction among BAME teachers suggests another broken social mobility promise for black and ethnic minority groups.

“And what kind of signal does it send to the British public and to the next generation of adults if trusted school leaders are indicating that there are different rules and opportunities for teachers from different ethnic backgrounds in the education system?”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “BAME teachers are as committed to teaching as their white colleagues, but are being held back by racial prejudice and discrimination."

“BAME teachers are, on average, paid less than their peers, face discrimination and prejudice when applying for jobs or promotions and typically face both overt and covert racism in the workplace."

“This is not just an issue for BAME teachers – this is an issue which should be of con- cern to the education system as a whole.

He continued: “Schools and pupils are losing out on the talents and skills of BAME teachers who are unable to ad- vance their careers.
“If we want the best education for our children and young people we cannot afford to continue to let this happen.”

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