Diversity in teaching report: key messages

Schools must be more proactive in countering the racism that still exists in education, says landmark report

Henry Hepburn

How schools can promote diversity and tackle racism in education

The Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group, convened to investigate the underrepresentation of minority ethnic teachers in Scotland’s schools, initially reported in November 2018.

Now, its final report has been published, with group chair Professor Rowena Arshad saying: "There is still much to do for Scotland’s teaching workforce to better reflect the diversity of children and young people in Scottish schools."

Improving diversity and tackling racism

Some of the key points in the new report, Teaching in a Diverse Scotland: Increasing and Retaining Minority Ethnic Teachers in Scotland’s Schools, include:

  • Racism continues to be experienced "across all aspects of society, including education".
  • Scotland has a target of at least 4 per cent of its teaching workforce coming from minority ethnic backgrounds by 2030  up from to 1.6 per cent in 2019  which would reflect the black, Asian and/or minority ethnic (BAME) population in the 2011 national census (although the upcoming census "will likely mean that the target...will need to be revised".)
  • To achieve the 4 per cent target would mean increasing the number of BAME teachers recruited into the profession by approximately 200 per year, across all initial teacher education (ITE) providers, from August 2022 to August 2030 inclusive.

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  • Educators and leaders at all levels must approach racism as a structural issue and not just at a personal level there is a need to become actively anti-racist.
  • To recruit and retain BAME teachers, school leaders' ability to recognise and address everyday forms of racism must significantly improve.

  • Teachers must be prepared to educate and act against racism, and school leaders must support and sponsor the progression of BAME teachers already in the workforce. Better baseline data will help to monitor progress.

  • Every "education stakeholder", from those engaged in initial teacher education to those who employ and promote teachers, to those who provide continuous professional learning, must take responsibility and play their part. 

  • Being anti-racist means acknowledging that racism exists, even when we do not immediately see it or understand it in our individual contexts, and proactively uncovering and countering racism wherever it exists, not just addressing racist incidents when they occur.
  • Racism has changed over the years: there is still some overt and deliberate racism in society, but racism has mutated so that microaggressions and unconscious bias are now more common.
  • Black and minority ethnic teachers continue to face structural barriers at every step of their career, from considering teaching as a career through to applying for headships.
  • All institutions involved in the career of a teacher, from ITE providers to schools and local authorities, should review and address the barriers to supporting BAME teachers to progress into and through teaching.
  • A national offer of support with a focus on sponsorship (sponsors "do not just talent spot but they will hold their sponsored individual’s career vision in mind and invest in upward movement") should be implemented to support BAME teachers at each stage of their career, while structural barriers remain.
  • Effective leadership at all levels is crucial for progress towards a more diverse teaching profession.
  • A new national post should be created to help improve diversity, and should be placed in an organisation such as the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).
  • Effective use of data is key to diversifying the teaching profession and evaluating success, so annual publication of data relating to the ethnicity of teachers in Scotland should be developed.
  • Where any plans are produced for diversifying the teaching profession these should be publicly available, for transparency and accountability.

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Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn is the news editor for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Henry_Hepburn

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