Black staff less likely to be promoted

TEACHERS from ethnic minorities are less likely to be promoted to senior posts in schools than their white counterparts.

Alistair Ross of London Metropolitan University, fromerly the University of North London, said that ethnic-minority teachers seemed to be facing institutional racism that stopped them gaining head and deputy posts, despite the equal opportunities policies of local authorities and governors.

This means that people from ethnic minorities account for only a tiny share of teachers in the most senior positions.

The difference cannot be explained by the fact that ethnic-minority staff are younger. The study shows that even when they have the same length of experience as white teachers, they tend to be lower in the hierarchy.

A survey of teachers in 22 local education authorities, including 18 in London, where 43 per cent of pupils were from ethnic minorities, found that only 9 per cent of teachers were from ethnic minorities.

These were disproportionately clustered in mainscale posts, with very few at the top. In those 22 LEAs, there were 442 white heads but only seven black and seven Asian heads.

Male ethnic-minority teachers seem to find more difficulty in moving off the main grade than their female counterparts. They lag as far behind white females in the race to senior posts as white females do behind white male teachers. Previous research has suggested black and Asian teachers may lag behind in promotion because of the subjects they teach. Asian secondary staff, for instance, are concentrated in science and maths, where promotion to headships is more unusual.

The study also examined the under-representation of ethnic minorities in teacher training, where they represent only 6.7 per cent of the total despite a participation rate of 15 per cent in higher education overall. Participation of the ethnic minority population in initial teacher training is only about 70 per cent of what might be expected, says Professor Ross.

Among reasons suggested for this are their own experience - including racism - as students in the English educational system.

Professor Ross says the country should start a sustained campaign to fill 15-20 per cent of teacher-training places with ethnic-minority recruits.

This would mean areas with many black and Asian pupils would have a representative teaching force and other areas would have a teaching force representing the national community.

"Institutional Racism: the experience of teachers in schools", by Alistair Ross. For copies email

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