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Minority teacher targets ' impossible'

Campaign to boost number of black and Asian recruits will fail, warn experts. Dorothy Lepkowska reports

A pound;1.5 million campaign to recruit thousands more teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds within two years is set to fail, according to the Government's latest figures.

Statistics published last week show that there has been hardly any increase in the number of recruits from black and Asian communities in the past year.

According to targets set by the Teacher Training Agency two years ago, 9 per cent of all teachers should be from ethnic minority communities by November 2006. But recruitment experts said this week that the target would be impossible to achieve.

By that date, the TTA hoped to attract an extra 3,000 trainees, an increase of 33 per cent on 2001-2.

In 2002, there were 2,178 teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds working in schools - 7.8 per cent of those who declared their ethnicity, according to the TTA's figures.

But statistics from the Department for Education and Skills suggest that the true figure is much lower. More than 95 per cent of teachers were in the white group in 2004, the same proportion as in 2003. The figure for the Asian community stayed at 2 per cent, while 1.5 per cent of new entrants came from the black community.

The only marginal increase was seen among teachers who were in the "mixeddual" category (mixed-race), which accounted for 0.5 per cent of recruits in 2003 and 0.6 per cent in 2004.

Recruitment expert John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys and emeritus professor of education at Oxford Brookes University, said teacher-training institutions would need to recruit between 8,000 and 10,000 people per year until 2006 to meet the targets - a task he described as "impossible".

Professor Howson said: "The Asian communities do tend to veer towards medicine and the law rather than teaching, so perhaps the profession needs to be made more attractive to them.

"It is also possible that we have a high proportion of black graduates already in the profession as they are generally less likely to enter higher education."

Regionally, the North-east had the lowest proportion of teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds - just 0.7 per cent.

London had the highest proportion at 16.3 per cent.

A spokesman for the TTA said that its figures for the same period show that of those who declared their ethnicity, 8.7 per cent were from minority backgrounds. He said the agency was considering how best to support providers through special funding and marketing measures.


Carol Hudson, a Year 5 teacher at Canterbury Cross primary school in Birmingham, knows how it feels to apply for a job, be interviewed by an all-white panel and feel that her face does not fit.

The 30-year-old, who has taught for seven years, said: "I've gone for jobs in schools in fairly affluent areas, where not a lot of black children live. The interviews went fine but I knew I would not get the jobs and was proved right."

On the whole, her experience has been positive, but she has a teaching friend who believes his promotion has been blocked because of his colour.

Ms Hudson said: "The students on my teacher-training course at Birmingham Newman college were predominantly white, but there were a few Asian and black teachers.

"I found it difficult to get a job at first. It might have been to do with my colour, but it could have been to do with my interview style. It is important to get black teachers into schools because the education system tends to fail black boys, and they need role models."

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