Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce subgroup - minutes: May 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 17 May 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Selma Augestad, Chair, National Officer, Equality, EIS
  • Nuzhat Uthmani, Primary School Teacher
  • Professor Rowena Arshad, former Head of Moray House School of Education and Sport
  • Asif Chishti, Senior Education Officer (National Race Diversity Lead), General Teaching Council Scotland
  • Simon Cameron, Chief Officer – Employer’s Team, COSLA
  • Judith Mohamed, Head teacher
  • Khadija Mohammed, Senior Lecturer in Education, School of Education and Social Services, University of West Scotland
  • Stephanie Walsh, Education Workforce Team, Scottish Government
  • Scott Sutherland, Early Years Workforce Team, Scottish Government
  • Judith Ballantine Equalities in Education Team, Scottish Government
  • Emma Bunting, Equalities in Education Team, Scottish Government
  • Pauline Hendry, Equalities in Education Team, Scottish Government


  • Lesley Whelan, Head of Professional Learning and Leadership, Education Scotland
  • Mélina Valdelièvre, Professional Learning and Leadership (Race Equality), Education Scotland 
  • Andrea Reid, Glasgow City Council and ADES
  • Navan Govendar, Anti-Racist Educator
  • Sara Medel Jiménez, NASUWT

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Selma welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies. She reminded members to give apologies in advance to allow for appropriate planning by the group’s secretariat. 

Selma welcomed Khadija Mohammed to the meeting to speak to the work that she is doing for the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE) in relation to developing a national diversity framework for ITE. 

Minutes and update on actions from the previous meeting

Selma advised that there had been one small amendment to the minute from the previous meeting, whereby Asif updated the introductory section about himself. Members acknowledged and the minute was agreed.

Actions update:

  • Emma to add reflection on BRL programme to June DITPEW agenda – remains open
  • Mélina to bring paper relating to reflections on BRL programme to June meeting. – Action closed. Paper was circulated to members on 17 May 2022. Mélina will speak to the paper at the June meeting
  • Mélina to speak to RRI subgroup’s draft whole school approach at June meeting. – remains open
  • Emma/Judith to pick up with Scott Sutherland about the potential for adding more around ELC to the group’s ITE framework action theme. – Closed. To be discussed under item 4
  • Emma to add ELC within framework action to agenda for May DITPEW meeting. – Closed

National anti-racist framework for ITE - presentation and discussion

Selma invited Khadija Mohammed to speak to the work that she has been commissioned by SCDE to carry out in regards to developing a national anti-racist framework for ITE. 

Khadija advised that members of this subgroup had been involved in the very early stages of discussion relating to the work as critical friends. Khadija spoke to five key areas:


There is a need to create a sense of belonging for potential minority ethnic students. Feedback continues to be “I can’t see myself being a teacher because none of them look like me”. There are a number of vehicles for this messaging, including videos/blogs etc. from existing minority ethnic ITE students and teachers. 

It was suggested that there may be scope for undergraduate programmes to partner with schools and that there has been some successful work in this area in England that could be learnt from. Additionally, with regards to postgraduate recruitment, is there scope for linking up with other degree programmes that already have a strong pool of diverse candidates? 

Khadija reflected on some of the ITE admissions processes that she has come across and the fact that these are likely to act as obstacles to minority ethnic applicants. These include problematic interview questions and lack of representation on panels. Khadija has asked institutions for a sample of the questions that are asked at admission but has received a very mixed response, with some reluctant to share. 

Building racial literacy - teacher educators/students

Khadija noted that a key element of the framework would be to foster an overarching anti-racist culture. There was a recognition of the lack of individuals with sufficient anti-racist expertise who are able to input into things like anti-racism policies and practice. Khadija is keen that ITE institutions consider the practices within their institutions that act as barriers to students of colour and that they think about embedding systematic anti-racist practice.

Increasing diversity within the education workforce includes the ITE workforce – Khadija noted that there are very few minority ethnic individuals employed within ITE. 

It is important that, throughout their ITE journey, institutions are building the racial literacy of their student teachers. They need to ensure that they are having conversations about race and that student teachers are then comfortable in discussing these issues with their own students in future. Khadija has undertaken some engagement with minority ethnic students about their racial identity and has found that often they do not feel as if there is room for such discussions within their institution.

As always it is important to be clear that just because you are a minority ethnic teacher, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have anti-racist expertise. 

ITE curriculum

There is a need to reframe how an anti-racist curriculum is considered and perceived. This includes how the curriculum is taught. Khadija’s reflection is that there is a need for a very explicit reference around developing an anti-racist curriculum, and not simply small bits here and there across the curriculum. 

There is a need to ensure that minority ethnic staff and students see themselves reflected within the curriculum and that there are safe spaces cultivated that enable people to feel safe in discussing issues of race. 

School placement

The framework needs to be clear and explicit in how closely institutions should work with schools in supporting minority ethnic students on placement. This includes a need for clear guidance in placement handbooks which outlines processes that students should follow in raising concerns about issues relating to race and equally where they can access support for their health and wellbeing. 

Policies relating to the recording of and response to racism and racist incidents during placement must be included in the framework. 

Probationary period

Khadija raised the question of whether this should be included within the framework. The sense was that it should be. She offered anecdotal evidence of students who have successfully completed their placement but then go on to face significant challenges during and following their probationary period. 

Selma then opened the discussion to questions, comments and discussion around Khadija’s presentation, this is summarised below:

What format will the framework take and how will it be implemented? - Still in the early stages of development and Khadija had considered including a short paragraph on each of the above areas and then some reflective questions, however there was discussion around whether suggested ‘actions to take’ would be more effective. 

In terms of how delivery of the framework will be encouraged, this has not yet been considered in detail. Essentially this is likely to be a guide and it would be for SCDE, who have commissioned this work, to think about potential enforcement. Prof. Arshad agreed that it is right that we ask this question of SCDE. She also suggested that there is a need for GTCS to also be involved. They have recently communicated to her that this issue would be considered at every reaccreditation event. 

Members were clear that strong buy-in from senior and middle management teams is essential to ensuring success. If SMTs are lukewarm then this is likely to filter down throughout the workforce. This needs to be long-term buy-in too, this is not an issue that will only need to be addressed once.

Members suggested that, once the framework is launched, there could be scope for a recording to be made around how the framework can be utilised. Passion and clarity will win over some people. 

Asif spoke to the point around the accreditation process. He advised that GTCS are currently evaluating it and he agreed that this work needs to be linked in to that. He suggested perhaps there was scope for the annual data report to be used as a prompt for annual action planning – essentially developing an annual cycle. 

Asif advised that in June he is meeting with colleagues from the Education Workforce Council in Wales around how they are looking at support for minority ethnic applicants, both before and after the application process (whether successful or unsuccessful).

Action – Asif to feed back to the subgroup following his meeting with the Education Workforce Council. 

Simon suggested that he agreed with the need for support for those on placement. Consideration is needed around what needs to be built into the entire system in order to effect change not just now but also into the future. 

Members reflected that support needed to be developed for in-school mentors. Nuzhat suggested that advice for mentors on how to handle racist incidents might be useful within the placement handbook. Suggestions included advice on sensitivities, taking account of identities and developing an anti-racist community environment). 

Selma highlighted that, within the subgroup’s action plan, there are actions out with the framework theme that relate to Khadija’s work. 

Is Khadija already gathering examples of ‘good practice’? – She reflected that unfortunately what she had was plenty of examples of poor practice. Some concerns too around the use of the term ‘good’ practice. This work, in most areas, is only in its infancy and as such there is a reluctance to commit to it being good until it proves to be such. Would it be more appropriate to call it ‘innovative’ practice? 

Action – Subgroup to consider whether to change terminology within action grid from ‘good’ practice to ‘innovative’ practice.

Selma then asked how the subgroup can support Khadija with this work going forward. Khadija suggested that once there is a draft ready she will share with the subgroup for comment. 

Early learning and childcare

Khadija commented that she is pleased that the group are considering ELC as well, in terms of the framework as it is clear that there is overlap.

Selma invited Scott Sutherland to speak to this item. He advised that, whilst there is overlap, routes into ELC are less linear than they are for teaching. Within Scottish Government, ELC colleagues are at the stage of considering a number of workshops as part of the work around the ELC Workforce Strategy. The suggestion is that these workshops would be the best place to speak with key ELC stakeholders about the ITE framework and whether it could be adjusted to work for ELC.

Nuzhat asked whether there had been any/many nursery establishments reaching out to seek anti-racism training for their staff. She said that sometimes it’s necessary just to go ahead and get started. There are organisations that could be linked in with that are outwith education. Nuzhat reflected that she herself was delivery anti-racism training for Children in Scotland that she thinks would be interesting for ELC.

Scott advised that he has been approached regarding the ‘ Developing the Young Workforce Live’ calendar. This is an opportunity to reach a substantial number of young people and to promote a career within our sector and there may be an opportunity here for the subgroup and our members. 

Action – Scott Sutherland to circulate information relating to ‘Developing the Young Workforce’

In terms of the DITPEW subgroup and the support that it can offer the Workforce Planning Group, Scott suggested that steering group members have been identified and bilateral conversations have started. It is likely that there will be scope for members of the DITPEW group to be involved too. 

Annual data report dissemination

Selma updated the group that letters highlighting the annual data report, its key findings and reflective questions to SCDE (who will disseminate to ITE institutions) and to Directors of Education within Local Authorities. Copies of these letters have been shared with all members by Emma. 

Scottish Government communications colleagues have advised that they are not in a position currently to circulate an infographic. Selma suggested that this is something that she is looking into from an EIS perspective. 

Action – Selma to update members as to progress with EIS posters/infographic related to underrepresentation.

Members once again reflected on the fact that so many individuals are listed as having an unknown or undisclosed ethnicity. 

EIS - recruitment responses from local authorities

Due to time constraints members agreed to touch on this item but to also return to it at the June meeting. 

Selma advised that EIS have now concluded their information gathering exercise and have received responses from 26 Local Authorities. 13 of those who responded had recently reviewed their recruitment practices. 7 of those had plans in place to address underrepresentation. 
Action – Selma to circulate paper related to EIS information gathering exercise on recruitment practices within Local Authorities. 

Nuzhat touched on the positive action being taken by Glasgow City Council. The five acting Principal Teacher posts within Glasgow City Council have been launched again for this year (closing date for applications 27 May). Of the successful applicants last year, one went on to secure a permanent position. Nuzhat reflected that, following engagement with minority ethnic educators, it is clear that lack of communication about these positive actions is problematic. 

By contrast, members reflected on the fact that other Local Authorities tried to carry out a similar ring-fencing action but their lawyers advised against it. There seems to be some disparity around how lawyers are interpreting the law in this area. Might it be worth the subgroup holding a Q&A session with a judge/lawyer to look at this? Simon suggested that the confidence within Local Authorities generally to take positive action was low, with many automatically assuming that it was positive discrimination. He agreed that a session with a legal representative would be useful and also suggested engaging with HR leads. 

Action – DITPEW members to look into discussion with legal/HR reps around the legalities and practicalities of positive actions. 

Any other business

Selma advised that the Cabinet Secretary has now signed off the REAREP action grid in principle. 

Nuzhat suggested that she would like to share a report she compiled for Glasgow City Council on behalf of EIS’ Glasgow BAME network ahead of the June meeting. 

Action – Nuzhat to share paper that she has compiled for Glasgow City Council on behalf of EIS’ Glasgow BAME Network.

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