Diversity in the teaching profession minutes: February 2020

Short term working group on diversity in the teaching profession. This is a sub-group of the Strategic Board for Teacher Education.

Attendees and apologies

  • Prof. Rowena Arshad, Chairperson
  • Maureen McKenna, ADES
  • Yasmeen Hussain, SAMEE
  • Lesley Whelan, Education Scotland
  • Sharon Smith, GTCS
  • Morag Redford, Scottish Council of Deans of Education
  • Mary Osei-Oppong, EIS
  • Jatin Haria, CRER
  • Mélina Valdelièvre, NASUWT
  • Fearghal Kelly, Scottish Government
  • Siân Balfour, Scottish Government (Secretariat)

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

The chair welcomed everyone to the 4th meeting of the extended working group.

Apologies were received from Debbie Walls (COSLA), Hakim Din (Calabar Education Consultants), Khadija Mohammad (SAMEE), Louise Barret (SCDE), Ken Edwards, (Skills Development Scotland)

Yasmeen Hussain was welcomed to the group, representing SAMEE and Sharon Smith from GTCS

Mary Osei-Oppong has now been confirmed as the EIS representative of the group.

Lynsey Mcilhone attended as an observer from SG Learning Directorate

Labinder Sekhon, Diversity Officer for West Partnership was welcomed and in attendance for item 3.

2. Approval of minutes and up-dates and actions arising from previous minutes

No changes were made and the October meeting minutes were accepted as an accurate record. The group then reviewed and discussed the most recent updates against the action log.  

Lesley Whelan has provided a written update ahead of the meeting for the group evidencing how ES programmes are changing, who is involved and outlining progress both for those programmes that have been reviewed and those still to be revised – See Annex A.  


  • MR to speak to ITE providers with a plea for them to review webpages and consider how well diversity is being reflected (recommendation 16).
  • SB to carry-out an audit of Scottish Education Council, Teachers’ Panel, Curriculum Advisory Board, the Education Leaders Forum and the SBTE to assess what progress has been made/ how they’re ensuring greater representation and voice (recommendation 17).
  • RA to forward comments to GTCS on guidance to ITE providers (recommendation 12).
  • LW to find our whether there is scope to extend the invite list to group members, for the next ITE self-evaluation symposium event, which is to be held on 2 June at Napier University and has diversity as its theme.
  • SB to up-date action log, circulate and arrange for October minutes to be uploaded to the website.

3. Paper 1 - Sharing the work and progress of the West Partnership

Labinder Sekhon has been in post since November 2019, seconded for a period of 12 months to take forward work associated with the recommendations of the group’s report, on behalf of the West Partnership

Labinder outlined to the group her work and planned actions to progress recommendations 4, 5, 6, 13 & 14, of the Diversity in the Teaching Profession report in the West Partnership. Her work and the main points of discussion are outlined in Annex B.

Labinder’s work to date has been developed from previous activity within Glasgow City Council, she is now focusing on developing stronger partnerships across the RIC.

Rowena thanked Labinder for the valuable work she is doing and commended Maureen on some brave and bold leadership decisions, particularly the innovative approaches to recruitment.  

Labinder had recently met with Debbie Walls and Sharon Smith, both members of the group. Rowena reiterated that collaboration is key and the importance of drawing on the available support and resources of those on the group to help drive forward the West Partnership work and avoid duplication of effort, in particular she highlighted the value of Labinder linking closely with Lesley Whelan on leadership development and SAMEE with regard to their mentoring programme.

The issue of probationer handbooks arose during the discussion, as it would appear not all local authorities have or use one, and few appear to include references to bullying and harassment.    


  • SB to liaise with GTCS to review the status/content of probationer handbooks within Local Authorities.
  • RA to forward to Labinder case studies from Geri Smyth
  • CRER will liaise and offer support to Labinder to run anti-racism training in Glasgow
  • SB offered to share her experience and insight as a mentor on the Career Ready Programme with Labinder

4. Paper 2 – Sharing of responses from Directors of Education

Rowena had written to all local authority Directors of Education at the end of November to seek their support in implementing recommendation 14 of the report.

A paper summarising the responses was shared and discussed and next steps agreed. 

The group expressed disappointment at the low response rate, which was just over 50%.

There was also concern expressed that some authorities where a lack of ethnic diversity exists with their population, do not perceive there to be a problem.  t was also acknowledged that with only a few exceptions, most responses described the standard policies and procedures in place, and the wholesale approaches that help local authorities meet the statutory obligations placed on them, but do not go far enough to address the issue of under representation of BME teachers within our schools.  

Maureen offered to distribute the summary of responses to her ADES colleagues, with a covering letter reiterating the importance and the risks associated of doing nothing, on behalf of the group. This offer was welcomed by the group.

Rowena mentioned that the letter had been discussed at an evidence session of the Equalities and Human Rights committee in December and a commitment given by the Minister, Ms McKelvie to update the committee further, once responses had been received.  


  • SB to draft a letter for RA to send to the Equalities and Human Rights committee – a further update will be provided towards the end of the life of the group.
  • SB to liaise with MM over follow up letter to ADES.

5. Paper 3 – ITE and Teacher Census Data

Fearghal presented and led discussion around his paper which outlined the data in relation to minority ethnic teachers in Scotland for the group’s consideration and to discuss the implication of the data for the work of the group going forward  (recommendation 10).

The paper included data sourced from HESA relating to entrants to and qualifiers from ITE programmes in Scotland from 2014-2019. The paper also included new analysis of the Teacher Census data, outlining the current situation in terms of minority ethnic teachers in promoted posts nationally and by local authority.

The group discussed the strengths and limitations of the data sources and any additional data that would help support the work of the group.

A number of issues were discussed and raised and it was agreed that clarity was required in a number of key areas such as interpretation of minority ethnic, to ensure robustness and usefulness of the data. There were also a number of areas where it was agreed further data would be helpful i.e. data by cohort, UCAS application data, albeit some caution was offered around the usefulness of this from SCDE, based on applicants having the ability to choose up to 5 options.  

SG Analysts had provided some potential targets that the group could consider, based on the fact that “1% of primary teachers are minority ethnic in 2018”.  If the aim is to improve get this to 4%, it would mean increasing the number of minority ethnic primary teachers by around 750 teachers. Assuming the current number of minority ethnic teachers is stable, then this would mean increasing the number of minority ethnic primary teachers qualifying by approx. 75 per year for the next ten years, over and above the current number of qualifiers. The group liked this as an approach and asked if it could be developed for all teachers, not just primary. 


  • FK to liaise further with SG analysis colleagues, to offer clarity in some instances and improve robustness of the data, as well as explore further data sources. To be shared ahead of the next meeting and potentially at the ITE Symposium in June. 
  • RA to find out from Edinburgh University more about its highly successful “Return to Teaching programme” i.e. what roles have qualifiers gone onto and retention rates.
  • SB/FK/RA to discuss the need to approach each individual ITE provider to explore how each is explicitly engaging in assisting to diversify the teaching profession. 

6. Next steps/future of the group

The life of the group had initially been agreed as 2 years from the publication of the report and currently due to conclude in November 2020. An extension to this was proposed and discussed, to allow further time to progress recommendations, many of which are only recently starting to gather momentum.  

All present confirmed they would be happy to continue beyond the initial planned 2 year duration and agreed an extension until spring 2021. Rowena suggested that this could coincide with an event to showcase progress and elements which can be shared across the system. This group agreed that this would be a good way to conclude the life of the group.


  • Secretariat will arrange a further/final meeting for the group in early 2021.
  • Group to consider the format of a future conference/event to showcase work of the group.

7. Any other business and date of next meeting

No other business was raised. Next meeting 3 June 2020, 2 p.m. till 4 p.m., Glasgow City Chambers

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