Improving diversity in education

Recommendations to make teaching more accessible for ethnic minorities.

Measures to more than double the number of minority ethnic teachers by 2030 have been published.

A working group report recommends measures to encourage minority ethnic people to become teachers. Currently, 1.4% of the teaching workforce comes from a minority ethnic background, compared to 4% of the Scottish population.

Recommendations include:

  • All levels of education should take steps to encourage young minority ethnic people to see teaching as a profession of choice
  • Universities should look at admissions processes to ensure no barrier or bias exists that could deter applicants
  • Aspiring minority ethnic teachers should be supported and encouraged to apply for promotion
  • Education Scotlands leadership programmes should help schools have a better understanding of racism impacts in the workplace
  • Improving availability and quality of curricular materials and anti-racist resources

Deputy First Minister 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 Rowena Arshad OBE is 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 chaired the Working Group. She 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.

"Where it is a gap of knowledge, we can inform and educate. Where it is disinterest then there needs to be a reminder that there is a Public Sector Duty to promote race equality that all public bodies need to take action on. We cannot let personal or institutional prejudice and even racism to block progress. 

"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 experience 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 ten years."

Teaching in Diverse Scotland: Increasing and Retaining Minority Ethnic Teachers in Scotland's Schools 

The report follows the publication of the A Fairer Scotland for All: Race Equality Action Plan 2017-21, which sets out themed actions to be taken over the course of this Parliament to make real improvements in the lives and experiences of minority ethnic communities in Scotland.


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