Headteachers are to be urged to increase the number of black and ethnic minority teachers they employ in the wake of figures showing few are coming forward into teaching.
The National Union of Teachers is to write to every headteacher in England and Wales asking them to ensure their teaching staff reflect the communities they serve.
A motion backed by delegates at their conference in Harrogate warned the current state of recruitment was "disturbing" as it meant that - in the majority of schools - the only black role models were administrative staff, cleaners, kitchen or security staff.
It added: "Conference is concerned that this state of affairs can impact negatively on the achievement of black children as they do not see representations that can act as role models for them to aim to achieve at a higher level."
Paramjeet Bhogal, an educational psychologist from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, urged the next Government to mount an inquiry to find out why so few people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds were coming forward to join the teaching profession.
Figures from the Department for Education show only 6.7 per cent of the teaching force are from ethnic minority groups compared to 12.8 per cent of the population as a whole. In addition, only 2.4 per cent of headteachers are from ethnic minority groups.
When it comes to trainee teachers, the proportion of black recruits is just two per cent - while, for Asians it is four per cent on the School Direct scheme - where trainees are employed in schools - and seven per cent on university courses.
Mr Bhogal said: "We're not getting black teachers into the profession and - if you're not in it - you can't progress.
"Have a look around (at delegates in the hall) and - if the population of this country is roughly 20 per cent black people - and there aren't 20 per cent here."
He added: "I'm urging the executive and everybody here to do something because you can help - possibly some of you are governors. I think we need an inquiry at government level because we need black teachers."
The motion went on to warn that the lack of black representation amongst middle and senior managers also discouraged serving black teachers from applying for higher positions in the school.
It said it was increasingly important to encourage black and ethnic minority group teachers at a time when many were "scapegoating" immigrants for the problems in society.
Bodrul Amin, from Luton, added: "Schools are in the forefront of our communities and should reflect fairly the diverse communities which they serve." They needed to dispel the belief that there was a "glass ceiling" beyond which black teachers could progress when it came to senior and management positions.
Sandra Hall, from Hackney, east London, moving the motion, said black teachers were not confident they would be treated fairly in applying for promotion. The union was not asking for positive discrimination in recruitment practices - but just wanted to see fairness.
Betty Joseph, for the union's executive, said - in many schools - the percentage of pupils from ethnic minority groups was around 25 per cent. In London, it could be higher 60 per cent or even 90 per cent. The recruitment of staff, though, did not reflect that.
Under the Coalition Government, grants of £330,000 have been made available to schools to help them increase diversity amongst their senior leadership teams.Reuse content