Minority PE needs a step-change

2nd February 2007 at 00:00
I read with interest your various items concerning racism and discrimination in teaching (TES, January 26).

For us at the Association for Physical Education, these items were very timely as we embark on a collaborative project with the Ethnic Minority Foundation (EMF) to address the imbalance between recruitment of people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds into initial teacher training for physical education (less than 4 per cent, compared with 35 per cent of the school population).

This is the lowest proportion for any subject on the national curriculum.

It contrasts with professions such as sports development and coaching in which recruitment is much more diverse and equitable than in PE teaching, although they too lag behind in relation to the number of BME people in the population.

We have struggled to find commitment to address this issue among the government agencies responsible for workforce development in teaching.

Rather, we have been told that funding would be found to support diversity only if PE were a shortage subject. It seems teacher supply is valued much more than equality of opportunity or ensuring appropriate role-models for children, an issue that figured so clearly in The TES last week.

As a subject association, we have a duty to identify barriers that may be to blame, and to do our best to address them. We are committed to building capacity among the voluntary groups that provide careers advice for BME young people: through better-quality information; encouraging more effective mentoring for young people from BME backgrounds who apply; and to raise awareness among admissions tutors and course leaders of barriers facing people from BME backgrounds who consider going into teaching, and especially PE.

In partnership with the EMF, and funded by Capacitybuilders' Improving Reach programme, we are looking at data on recruitment and admissions and using focus groups to provide insight into this lack of diversity among PE teachers. We would welcome any ideas or information that could help us.

* Email: david.turner@afpe.org.uk

Professor Margaret Talbot Chief executive, Association for Physical Education, Leeds

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