Racism blocking career progress

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
Robert Boyland and Emily Clark report on a revealing NUT survey of ethnic minority teachers

THREE out of four ethnic minority teachers surveyed by a union believe racism in schools is hindering their progress up the career ladder.

Of the 107 teachers who responded to the National Union of Teachers'

survey, 73 per cent were dissatisfied with the reasons for their failure to get better jobs.

One applicant was told: "You are lucky that you are working in this position. The white teachers have a higher standard of living and they need more money. That is why they are promoted over you."

Another said: "I asked the head of department and was told that the school had to think of its image - parents may not like to see a 'foreigner' in a position of authority."

The NUT found that many black and ethnic minority teachers who unsuccessfully applied for promotion now have "little faith or confidence" in the system. Two-thirds of those surveyed had applied for more senior positions, with four out of 10 succeeding.

While 64 per cent of ethnic minority teachers said they would consider applying for the National Professional Qualification for Headship, a third who would not do so blamed racism or lack of equality in the promotion system.

One teacher said: "At one stage I would have considered this but due to the extent of institutional racism in schools, left unchecked, I have changed my mind."

Teachers of Caribbean origin were more successful in gaining promotion than other ethnic groups. Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of Caribbean teachers had applied for promotion and 62 per cent of such applications were successful.

Indian and African teachers were the least successful in their efforts to gain better jobs. Those of Indian origin were successful in just 15 per cent of their promotion applications, while African teachers made more such applications than other ethnic groups, but still had the second lowest success rate.

This was despite the fact that 92 per cent of African teachers possessed additional qualifications, such as MAs or postgraduate diplomas, or were working towards them. Nearly half of promoted Caribbean teachers, however, had no additional qualifications.

The NUT wants the Government to set up a work shadow scheme for ethnic minority teachers aspiring to leadership positions and develop a strategy to keep them in their jobs. It also wants training for middle managers.

John Bangs, the NUT's head of education, said: "Attitudes have changed massively in the past few years. The Stephen Lawrence inquiry has had a profound effect on awareness, monitoring is much greater and there is a lot of positive work going on but it is by no means completed."

Governors, 29

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