Analysis: Black and ethnic minority teachers are being ground down | HeraldScotland


One of the reasons for the lack of recruitment of black and minority ethnic (BME) teachers across the UK is that they have not grown up in classrooms with BME teachers.

Their children are not surrounded by BME teachers so it is not a profession that necessarily sends strong signals saying BME teachers belong.

We would argue there has to be a national campaign to say we need more teachers from these backgrounds, but there is no evidence of that.

A lot of the experiences of people from BME backgrounds in schools is around the colour of their skin and our studies have shown how profound and pernicious that experience in school can be.

It is the subtle and insidious ways they were not promoted, the slights and micro aggressions which held them back or damaged their confidence.

Teachers from all backgrounds, regardless of ethnic group, want to be teachers for the same reasons – because they have a commitment to the pupils, a passion to be a mentor and so on.

It is not a lack of commitment that wears them down, but a reflection of those everyday experiences of being racially discriminated against.

That comes on top of everything else that teachers are having to deal with, from an increasing workload to being undervalued in terms of pay.

You also have to ask about retention and evidence from surveys we have been involved with suggest people are leaving the profession because they are being ground down. There are issues with BME teachers dropping out in the first three years of teaching.

Equality issues in schools in general do not seem to be a strong enough focus and that is a particular case in terms of race.

We have evidence that Muslim teachers are particularly struggling with racism in schools, and that can be from pupils or subtle messages from other teachers.

Another key issue is that teachers talk about how racism in school has become more of an issue in the context of Brexit. Pupils feel emboldened to say racist things. When teachers raise this with senior members of staff it is downplayed.

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