Black and minority ethnic teachers face an "endemic culture of institutional racism" in schools, research found today.
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."