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Concerns that School Direct not recruiting enough ethnic minority trainees

Concerns have been raised that the government's own teacher training programme is not recruiting enough trainees from ethnic minorities. 

A Freedom of Information request obtained by TES has revealed figures that show Asian trainee teachers are almost twice as likely to be on a university course than in the government's School Direct scheme, which gives schools the responsibility for recruiting their own trainees. 

According to statistics from September 2013, Asian students made up 7 per cent of trainees in universities compared to just 4 per cent on School Direct.

The proportion of black students was 2 per cent for all routes, while 3 per cent of university-based trainees described themselves as mixed race compared to only 2 per cent of those on School Direct.

Michael Gove has said that by 2015 well over half of teacher training places will be delivered by schools, although not all through School Direct.

But teacher leaders are concerned that the fragmentation of teacher training could lead to less diversity at the front of the classroom. 

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the figures showed black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds were "critically underrepresented" among teachers. 

“The findings from the FOI demonstrate the urgent need for systematic ethnic monitoring of the teacher workforce, not only at the recruitment stage but throughout the careers of BME teachers," Ms Keates said.

"We are concerned that those responsible for the management of School Direct at school level may not be adequately prepared for their key role in securing a diverse and inclusive teaching profession.

"Teachers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds remain critically under-represented in the workforce. Our own evidence shows that once in the profession, BME teachers still face discrimination, bullying and harassment which hold them back from career progression and may be a factor in the low take-up into the profession. It is an issue which needs addressing as a priority."

John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys and an expert on teacher recruitment said there would be large parts of the country where there would be fewer numbers of BME graduates. But he admitted there was an overall issue that needed to be looked at.

“The problem is with a devolved system where there are lots of small decisions on one or two entrants, each person is making a perfectly respectable decision but the aggregate is a policy that we don’t approve of," Mr Howson said.

"There is certainly an issue here. If the government wants things to be representative of the population as a whole they must not produce a teacher training programme that has inbuilt features that prevent that from happening.”

The FOI figures showed there were 270 Asian, 140 black and 140 mixed-race students among the 6,580 School Direct trainees. In contrast, there were 1,740 Asian, 540 black and 660 mixed-race students were among the near 26,000 trainees at universities.

The current teaching force is 93.3 per cent white, according to DfE statistics. Teachers from an Indian background make up the next largest proportion accounting for 1.6 per cent of teachers.

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