Racism is shocking but not a surprise

13th November 2009 at 00:00

Your article "'Endemic racism' dashes job hopes" (November 6) highlights the most significant challenges faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) teachers. Not only are fewer than 3 per cent of headteachers from BME backgrounds but they tend to leave the profession earlier than their white counterparts. This is often down to systems that consistently fail to support the career development needs of this group of teachers.

However, tackling institutional racism is a challenge that needs a two-pronged approach. Firstly, this involves working at the organisational level with local authorities and educational institutions to raise awareness and help them develop a better understanding of diversity issues. This should lead to devising and implementing successful strategies to bring about sustainable change in policy and practice, giving educational bodies the tools they need to enable them to become more attractive to BME teachers as places to work.

A second, equally important element is coaching for BME teachers to help them meet personal and professional development needs and overcome the confidence issues holding them back. As a coach to BME teachers and a former headteacher myself, I have seen first-hand and also experienced the unique obstacles BME teachers face. It is critical to acknowledge these specific challenges and support BME leaders.

A lot needs to be done before schools can boast of a discrimination-free environment but now that we are beginning to see some positive changes, it is imperative that momentum is maintained.

Viv Grant, Director, Integrity Coaching, London.

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