Action vowed to increase minority ethnic teachers in Scottish schools

Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: John Devlin
Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: John Devlin
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Steps are to be taken to increase the number of teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds after a report highlighted issues with discrimination.

The Scottish Government wants to double the number of minority ethnic teachers by 2030.

Currently, 1.4 per cent of the teaching workforce comes from a minority ethnic background, compared to 4% of the Scottish population.

A survey of teachers in Glasgow found potential racism and discrimination from pupils, parents and colleagues was the main reason for low numbers entering the profession.

A lack of support and role models in senior teaching positions was also highlighted.

Professor Rowena Arshad, who led the study, said there was a “huge awareness gap”, with many education bodies failing to see a problem.

The report, Teaching in Diverse Scotland: Increasing and Retaining Minority Ethnic Teachers in Scotland’s Schools, has recommended leadership programmes should help schools have a better understanding of racism impacts in the workplace and that aspiring minority ethnic teachers should be supported and encouraged to apply for promotion.

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Education Secretary John Swinney said: “The number of black and minority ethnic teachers is less than half of the population rate - that has to change.

“Radically improving the diversity in Scottish teaching is not just good for society, the evidence shows it benefits pupils and schools.

“We must be absolutely sure there is no bias or complacency at every level, from our university admissions or teacher recruitment processes to promotion and progression within local authorities.

“We also need to find and celebrate positive role models and make a concerted effort to talk to young people from minority ethnic backgrounds about the benefits of a teaching career. I expect all partners to act on these recommendations and increase the ethnic diversity of the teaching profession in Scotland.”

Professor Arshad, head of Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh and co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, said: “Education employers, providers and unions all recognise that the lack of diversity in our teaching work is not acceptable. However, we need joined up thinking on how we are going to achieve this.

“Black and minority ethnic teachers and probationers told us that ethnicity, the colour of your skin, how your faith, language and nationality do matter on whether you are made to feel included. They also shared examples of racism they had experienced on probation, such as being given different support levels to white probationers.

“However, the majority of employers and education providers do not see this as an issue, so we have a huge awareness gap that needs to be addressed.

“Our report provides practical recommendations with action points which are achievable. If all education providers work together, we can make a difference in the next 10 years.”