One of the success stories of the past decade has been the manner in which the teaching profession has come to represent the multicultural nature of our society.
For if education is about "a conversation between the generations", then it must surely be necessary for the different partners to be able to talk to each other in a meaningful manner.
Ever since Estelle Morris launched the then Teacher Training Agency (TTA) campaign to attract more teachers from ethnic minorities at a conference in Stratford in 1997, the TTA and its successor, the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), has campaigned vigorously to increase the number of trainees from minority groups entering the profession. Overall progress appears slower than reality, as national statistics measure totals employed rather than annual intakes.
Nevertheless, the percentage of teachers from minority groups has increased across the country. Progress has been greatest in the areas with the highest concentration of pupils from minority backgrounds and slowest where ethnic minority pupils make up a much smaller proportion of the school population. Fewer than 2 per cent of teachers in the North East and South West are from minority backgrounds, compared with one in five in London schools.
In the towns and conurbations between Liverpool and Hull, the discrepancy between teachers and pupils from minority groups is wider than expected. Seven per cent of pupils but only 1 per cent of teachers from a minority background in the North East is not surprising; only 3 per cent of teachers in the North West, when 16 per cent of pupils are from ethnic minorities, and 4 per cent to 18 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber is more of an issue, when in London the ratio is much closer, at 20 per cent of teachers to 56 per cent of pupils.
As I have reported elsewhere, if the ethnic diversity of teachers is on the increase, the percentage of school leaders from minority backgrounds remains small, especially among the faith schools that form a large percentage of the nation's primary schools.
John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education
PERCENTAGE OF NON-WHITE TEACHERS
North East 1%
North West 3%
Yorkshire Humber 4%
East Midlands 4%
South East 4%
South West 1%
West Midlands 7%
PERCENTAGE OF NON-WHITE PUPILS
North East 7%
Yorkshire Humber 18%
North West 16%
West Midlands 27%
South West 7%
South East 14%
East Midlands 15%