There must be greater diversity in Scotland’s teaching profession to help promote equality, MSPs are expected to be told today.
This evening, a cross-party group at the Scottish Parliament, set up to tackle Islamophobia, will hear from speakers from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in a call to encourage minority ethnic students to work in the profession.
They will warn that a lack of role models, cultural and societal barriers, and prejudice are deterring many from choosing teaching as a career.
Official figures show that, currently, only 1.4 per cent of the teaching workforce comes from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background – equivalent to just 672 teachers – and just 0.6 per cent of promoted post holders in Scottish schools are from a minority background. The 2011 census recorded that 4 per cent of the population as a whole were from minority ethnic backgrounds.
A report published in November resulted in the Scottish government committing to doubling the number of BAME teachers in Scottish schools, ensuring that by 2030 they were as well represented in teaching as in the general population.
The report found schools and local authorities were failing to recognise that racism or racial inequality was an issue.
Scottish Labour MSP Anas Sarwar, chairman of the cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia, said: "Education is not only the vehicle to break the cycle of poverty, it is also the vehicle to defeat prejudice and hate.
"Teaching a child can help educate and change a family, and it can educate and change a community.
"But that task is made harder when the teaching profession does not reflect the diversity of our classrooms across Scotland. It’s clear that we are failing to encourage BAME individuals to embark on a teaching career."
He added: "Improving the diversity of the teaching profession to reflect our society will benefit every single school and every single pupil, ensuring the next generation of Scots learn from teachers who come from a range of diverse cultures and backgrounds."
Khadija Mohammed, a UWS lecturer in education and chairman of SAMEE (Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators), said: “We know there are challenges but it is important now more than ever to work together in a more joined-up approach and explore ways forward.
“At SAMEE, we have developed a bespoke coaching and mentoring programme for BAME professionals which essentially encourages them to come together as a community and considers ways in which they can support and learn from each other to progress.
“It is important to provide guidance from an early stage in the mentee's professional journey, placing emphasis on the value of a diverse workforce.”