Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce subgroup: November 2023

Minutes from the group's meeting on 22 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies


Nuzhat Uthmani (Chair), Principal Teacher
Asif Chishti (Co-Chair), Senior Education Officer (National Race Diversity Lead), General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS)
Kevin Brack, Lecturer in Educational Leadership, Moray House School of Education and Sport
Sara Medel Jiménez, NASUWT
Lesley Whelan, Head of Professional Learning and Leadership, Education Scotland
Marla Baird, Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Manager, Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA)
Andrea Reid, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
Zara Khan, Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS)
Donna Wilson, General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS)
Pauline Hendry, Equality in Education Team, Scottish Government
Judith Ballantine, Equality in Education Team, Scottish Government
Emma Bunting, Equality in Education Team, Scottish Government


Mélina Valdelièvre, Senior Education Officer, Equalities, Education Scotland 
Chereen Rain, Lead Specialist, Racial Literacy, Education Scotland
Selma Augestad, National Officer (Equality), Education Institute of Scotland (EIS)
Judith Mohamed, Head Teacher
Louise Barrett, Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE)
Jehan Al-Azzawi, Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE)

Items and actions

Agenda item 1 - welcome and apologies

Nuzhat welcomed members to the meeting. She introduced Zara from Intercultural Youth Scotland (IYS) who will be a member of the Diversity in the Teaching Profession and Education Workforce subgroup (DiTPEW) going forward. Zara was previously a teacher who recently left the profession. Nuzhat also welcomed Donna from the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) to the meeting to deliver the workshop on Sponsoring alongside Asif. This meeting was dedicated entirely to a workshop on the proposed models for sponsoring that are being developed by Asif and the GTCS.

Agenda item 2 - minutes and actions update

There were no comments on the minutes from the September meeting and as such these were agreed as final and will be published on the Scottish Government’s website. 

Actions update:

  • Emma to liaise with education analysts to ask the Universities and colleges admission Service (UCAS) along to a future meeting. Action remains open. Work is underway to identify a date for UCAS to meet with the co-chairs of the DiTPEW in order to advance work ahead of the publication of the 2024 iteration of the annual data report
  • members to send comments in writing on the theory of change model (ToC). Action closed. Members suggested that they would appreciate the secretariat liaising with Scottish Government analytical services in order to understand what the next steps are and what the end product of this work will be
  • secretariat to investigate discrepancies in Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education (MQuITE) data and to work with Scottish Government teacher workforce colleagues in relation to Dr. Kennedy potentially attending a future meeting of the DiTPEW. Action remains open. No update
  • secretariat to speak with early learning and childcare (ELC) colleagues about their work related to diversifying the workforce and find out what data they are currently collecting. Action closed. Emma updated members of the group that the ELC team are currently experiencing significant capacity issues and suggested that she would invite Scott Sutherland to the next meeting to update on work within ELC in this space
  • co-chairs and secretariat to invite chairs of other workstreams to meet and discuss areas of overlap and cooperation. Action closed. This meeting took place in October 2023 and was very positive. It was suggested that thought needs to be given to the role of the Programme Board in addressing areas of overlap. In particular Asif reflected that there was significant overlap with the work of the Racism and Racist Incidents workstream on their development of a whole school approach
  • secretariat to circulate padlet used for feedback on memoranduk of understanding (MoU) review alongside September minute. Action closed. The formal response to this review was submitted on behalf of the DiTPEW by the secretariat

Agenda item 3 - workshop on GTCS sponsoring models

This work stems from this group’s action grid as well as the remit of Asif’s role. The purpose of this item was to discuss what a sponsoring model should look like and how the case could be made for employers to adopt one. Asif explained that the data shows that career progression for minority ethnic teachers is an issue, noting that progression should be viewed more broadly than just promoted posts. He also reflected the need to consider early career teachers, where the data shows that drop off rates are significantly higher for those from a minority ethnic background than they are for the wider cohort. There was an acknowledgement that there will be a need to make the case for why this is needed specifically for minority ethnic educators but a sense that in some cases this stems from a lack of understanding as to what sponsoring actually is. This work is currently in an engagement phase whereby the GTCS are speaking with a number of groups, organisations and individuals. 

What is sponsoring?

Asif advised that the definition of sponsoring that GTCS were using came directly from Professor Rowena Arshad’s 2021 Teaching in a Diverse Scotland report “Sponsors, unlike mentors, act as a spotlight providing exposure, networking connections and endorsements. Sponsors do not just talent spot, but they will hold their sponsored individual’s career vision in mind and invest in upward movement”. In order to inform the work being undertaken a literature review was done as well as a number of scoping exercises however Asif suggested that there was scope for this group’s discussions to help shape what sponsoring is/should be in terms of this work. 

Reflections from the group on key questions? 

What are the challenges to career progression that could be lessened through sponsoring?

  • inaccessible and exclusionary workplace culture. This could include navigating hidden power dynamics that influence workplace culture 
  • challenge of finding person who can give support when needed who understands the challenges of a minority ethnic teacher – both day to day challenges as well as access to other opportunities

 What would encourage you/a sponsored individual to participate in a sponsoring programme?

  • the ability to pick your sponsor in order to ensure it is someone that you trust. A sponsored individual is likely to have an awareness of key players/allies in own area
  • a desire to build networks and have more professional relationships – go to conferences, not just to build connections, but present own learning
  • evidence of real benefits that could be highlighted
  • if a sponsor had links to the same community as the sponsored person so they're aware of the specific issues and barriers that exist and what further opportunities are available that the sponsored person wouldn't have been provided with

What might put you off?

  • the need to communicate the requirements and reasoning for the programme of sponsoring
  • potential negative perceptions from others 
  • exhaustion from trying and getting nowhere, as well as cynicism of how it will be different

What would make a good sponsor?

  • a level of racial literacy is essential. The gold standard would be the completion of the Building Racial Literacy Programme
  • someone with a sphere of influence that allows them to not only signpost but also to champion an individual
  • vital that the person comes with the confidence to take an anti-racist stance
  • commitment, this is about someone undertaking a journey with the sponsored individual 
  • someone who comes to the role without an assumption of deficit on the part of the sponsored individual. This is about addressing institutional barriers not deficits within the individual
  • a sponsor might not have skills or experiences to coach or mentor, but have influence to access power dynamics, and that is a fundamental difference between the two
  • someone in a similar environment – or in environment you wish to be. Someone at the same Local Authority for example

Is there anything else you would like to say? 

  • it is important that an intersectional approach is taken in the development of the models

Action: Emma to gather comments from absent members and add to GTCS Padlet.

Agenda item 4 - any other business

GTCS review of memorandum of understanding

Asif updated members on next steps for the GTCS review of its MoU. He advised that the engagement phase has now closed and that analysis of the results is underway. In the New Year it is likely that a draft will go to the GTCS Council for approval and following that to wider public consultation. 

Engagement with children and young people's group

The children and young people’s group, being run by Intercultural Youth Scotland, will meet with the DiTPEW on 13th December. Members were encouraged to attend if possible. 

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