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Racism affects 25% of new staff

More than a quarter of student teachers from ethnic minorities, and one in six newly-qualified teachers, encounter racism in school, a survey has found.

Most of the harassment was verbal abuse from pupils, but there were also complaints about parents and staff. One student said parents had referred to her as the "blackie teacher" and the "Paki woman" during a placement.

Another teacher said: "I have been mistaken, by other teachers, for a classroom assistant. Students have been surprised to see a black teacher."

However, the level of racism was generally less than most of the trainees and new teachers had expected. In several cases, students apprehensive about training placements in all-white schools had in fact had positive experiences, sometimes leading to jobs.

"During the course of the research we came across few examples of overt racism, but, throughout, it was a cause of anxiety," said the researchers.

The survey, commissioned by the Teacher Training Agency, is based on responses from 289 trainees and 149 NQTs, plus 93 intervies, including ones with staff at training institutions and partner schools.

Most students were keen to work in racially-mixed schools and three-quarters saw themselves as potential role models for other teachers.

However, being a role model sometimes added to the pressures on students. And being of the same ethnic background as pupils was notsufficient grounds for winning their respect, said the report.

In two years of teaching at Drew primary school in Newham, east London, Marina Russell, 28, has been on the end of only one overtly racist remark, and that was from an eight-year-old, who later apologised.

She said this contrasted dramatically with previous jobs before teacher training, and also with her schooling and experience in the 1980s when she was often chased home by skinheads. "Growing up, I remember not seeing a black teacher until I was in secondary school. It had a really damaging effect."

For the report "Ethnicity and the Professional Socialisation of Teachers" go to: www.canteach.gov.ukinfolibraryindex.htm

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