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Nearly half of ethnic minority teachers feel 'racial discrimination has stopped them progressing'

  • @kashmiragander

Nearly half of teachers who are black or ethnic minority (BME) feel that racial discrimination has stopped them from progressing in their careers, a conference organised by a teacher union has heard.

The annual NASUWT Black and Minority Ethnic Teacher’s Conference saw teachers from across the country meet in Birmingham on Saturday.

Participants took part in a real-time electronic poll aimed at uncovering their views on a series of issues relating to work in education.

The question “Do you feel that you are being held back in your career as a result of racial discrimination?” was posed to around 350 teachers.

Almost half said yes, a quarter said no, while 25 per cent said they did not know or were not sure.

More than three quarters of BME teachers defined themselves as ambitious, yet stated they are being held back by racial discrimination and the attitudes of senior colleagues.

One per cent short of all BME teachers felt that the Government does not respect and value teachers and does not understand the day-to-day realities of teaching.

Over half of the teachers polled agreed that mental health was an issue and that employers were not committed to protecting their mental and physical well-being at work, with workload cited as the single most negative part of the job.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, who addressed the conference, said: “BME teachers have told us that racial discrimination is an endemic feature of the education system.

“Holding back the potential and talent of teachers on grounds of their race or colour also damages the prospects of pupils.

"The coalition Government's reforms to the teachers' pay system, which give more freedoms to individual schools to determine teachers' pay, has been overwhelmingly rejected by BME teachers who fear it will exacerbate discrimination against BME teachers.

“All of the issues raised today will be taken forward by the NASUWT as we continue to press the Government for a fair national framework of pay and conditions for all teachers.”

A Department of Education spokesperson said: “Teaching is a highly attractive profession which is critical to the success of our education system, and we are making sure this is properly recognised. We are reforming teacher training to attract the best graduates and professionals, investing £4 million in development and training for existing teachers, and reforming pay so schools can attract and retain the best teachers who have the greatest impact on their pupils’ achievements. This will ensure that every school has a clear system for teacher appraisal that is fair and consistent.”