More than half of BAME teachers face racism in schools

Teachers recall being described as 'oversensitive', 'paranoid' and 'aggressive' when challenging unacceptable language or behaviour at work

BAME teachers are suffering an increasing amount of racism in schools

More than half of teachers from minority-ethnic groups have experienced racism in schools in the past year, according to a new poll.

A survey by the NASUWT teaching union found that 54 per cent of black, Asian and/or minority-ethnic (BAME) teachers have experienced verbal or non-verbal actions that they believe are demeaning to their racial heritage or identity in the last 12 months.

And more a third (37 per cent) think the problem has worsened in schools over the past year.

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The union asked more than 400 BAME teachers from across the UK about the challenges they face in schools.

Nearly half (46 per cent) were not confident about reporting racial discrimination, racial bullying or racial harassment to their employer because of lack of support.

Teachers also said they had typically been described as "oversensitive", "paranoid" or "aggressive" when challenging unacceptable language or behaviour at work.

A zero tolerance policy on racism, together with anti-racism inspections and stronger government regulations, were deemed the most important priorities for ensuring that racist attitudes and behaviours are eliminated in schools and colleges.

Allana Gay and Penny Rabiger, founding members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Educators (BAMEed), said: "Until schools decide to take proactive actions to build an inclusive culture highlighting protected characteristics, external influences will shape understanding.

"In the current climate, racism is at the fore. Guidance, training and expectations for schools to take action on racism and ethnic diversity is urgently needed."

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of NASUWT, said that "microinsults" and "microinvalidations" – subtle communications that are rude, insensitive or dismissive towards minority-ethnic people – are often "downplayed" by senior managers.

"BAME teachers continue to be subjected to unacceptable racist remarks, negative comments and derogatory behaviours because of their racial origin," she said.

"The experiences shared by BAME teachers today demonstrate that discrimination and unfair treatment of BAME teachers and pupils is unfortunately still rife, impacting on educational outcomes and teachers’ careers.

"All of NASUWT’s own research shows the BAME teachers face greater barriers and discrimination in gaining promotion and pay progression than the generality of teachers and that overt and covert instances of racism are a daily reality for too many BAME teachers.

"NASUWT will continue to support members in challenging these injustices, but much more action is needed by government to affect the systemic change which is needed to ensure that no pupil or teacher is held back because of their ethnicity or faith."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

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