Teaching in a diverse Scotland - increasing and retaining minority ethnic teachers: 3 years on

This report outlines the progress and challenges faced in implementing the seventeen recommendations of the Teaching in a Diverse Scotland report, and outlines the work still to be undertaken to achieve the aim of a teaching profession, which reflects the diversity of Scotland's population.

2. Progress to date

This section outlines the progress achieved to date in implementing the recommendations in the 2018 Teaching in a Diverse Scotland report by theme.

2.1 Closing the Awareness Gap – improving levels of racial literacy within the sector

A key priority for the group was to close the awareness gap by improving the racial literacy of those working in Scottish education. The term racial literacy is used here to mean having the understanding and practice to recognise, respond and counter forms of everyday racism or racial microaggressions at all levels, personal, cultural and institutional levels.

The following progress has been made:

  • The refreshed and restructured sets of General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTC Scotland) Professional Standards now leads with a section called 'Being a teacher in Scotland' which places the professional values of social justice as being at the heart of what it means to be a teacher. The Standards also heighten and highlight more clearly the expectations of teachers in the context of embracing equality and diversity.
  • The GTC Scotland has committed to ensure that in the next iteration of the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) accreditation documentation a question will be asked of how ITE providers are enabling students to acknowledge and consider how their positionality and identity shapes their thinking and practice to ensure that this is addressed in all ITE future programmes. The GTC Scotland has developed an Equality and Diversity Hub[8] and two new Equality and Diversity Professional Learning Modules. The Hub has a specific section on race which includes links to articles which engages teachers with concepts like anti-racism, privilege and institutional racism. There are also references to organisations who can assist linkages with Black and minority ethnic communities.
  • On the Equality and Diversity Hub, GTC Scotland has created a Professional Guide Equality and Diversity: A Guide for Teachers to provide support for them to reflect on their understanding of equality and diversity and how it relates to their professional lives and actions.
  • GTC Scotland has recently had approval from their Education Committee to launch a newly-developed professional learning award: Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity. This award has been created to identify and celebrate the efforts of those teachers who exceed expectations and who demonstrate a pioneering spirit, show determination, and challenge adversity in a bid to promote and facilitate a culture and ethos of equality and diversity. This award will be launched nationally in Spring 2021. GTC Scotland are also undertaking active research in partnership with Children in Scotland and Intercultural Youth Scotland to understand better children and young people's views on equality and diversity in education in Scotland.
  • Education Scotland has worked with Black and minority ethnic teachers and anti-racist experts to ensure that their programmes such as the Teacher Leadership Programme, Excellence in Headship (EiH), Into Headship (which awards the Standard for Headship, which is now mandatory for all newly appointed permanent headteachers in local authority and grant aided schools) now include sessions on anti-racism. The working group's original report is now essential reading on the Into Headship programme's employment law module. This means all new headteachers in Scotland will have engaged with the relevance of race equality as part of leadership before leading a school. Areas now covered in Scotland's professional learning and leadership programmes can be seen in Annex C.
  • Education Scotland has communicated the refresh of their leadership programmes and online resources to local authorities via the professional learning networks.
  • A standards guide for what should be included when procuring race equality and anti-racist training has been developed by Coalition of Race Equality and Rights (CRER) for those procuring trainers for race equality. This is due to be published in March 2021.
  • The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) have offered bespoke anti-racism professional learning sessions through their newly established EIS Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network and sessions for Equality Reps, School Reps, Local Authority Secretaries, depute headteachers and headteachers, in addition to written guidance for Reps on Mobilising for Anti-Racism at Work. The resources and materials used in these sessions are available from the EIS website[9].
  • NASUWT have recently reviewed and updated their professional learning offer for members and representatives to include more equalities training. NASUWT have also lobbied for more racial literacy amongst various education working groups. For instance, by encouraging culturally-responsive and race-informed services when stakeholders offer mental wellbeing support for pupils and teachers.

Areas still requiring progress

  • The Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE) have approved the development of a National Framework for Diversity in ITE providers. Such a framework would cover the entire process from marketing, admissions, content and processes of curriculum to student support. The working group have asked for the framework to explicitly address race equality and anti-racism and that these themes should not be lost in a generic framework about inclusion.
  • The racial literacy level of staff teaching within Scottish ITE delivering teacher education programmes needs to be enhanced to enable staff to pay due diligence to embedding anti-racism into the content and design of the ITE curriculum.
  • The racial literacy of local authority staff with responsibility for recruitment, supporting and promotion of staff in schools needs to be enhanced.

2.2 Attractiveness of ITE to students from Black and minority ethnic background and harnessing the power of partnership to encourage Black and minority ethnic people to consider a career in Education

The West Partnership Regional Improvement Collaborative, which brings together eight local authorities, appointed a Diversity Officer in autumn 2019 to help progress recommendations from the Teaching in a Diverse Scotland report. Unfortunately, much of the work planned had to be suspended due to lockdown from March 23rd 2020. The following outlines the progress that was made in the short time the post was active.

  • Working with Skills Development Scotland, job profiles showing the journey of workers in the education sector have been developed[10]. These profiles have drawn on Black and minority ethnic people to create visibility but also to provide a clear message that working in schools is a rewarding career option. These excellent resources displayed in every school and utilised at career events from upper primary onwards would begin to enable Black and minority ethnic pupils to view education as a potential career pathway. These could also be used in community engagement events with parents and carers to promote teaching as a profession which they might consider for their children.
  • As an example of supporting more people from a minority ethnic background into the education workforce, Glasgow City Council, utilising positive action measures set out in the Equality Act 2010, provided guaranteed interviews to Black and minority ethnic staff applying for Support for Learning Worker posts meeting the minimum job requirements. Support was also provided during the application process, including interview technique. This resulted in over 45 Black and minority ethnic women becoming employed in schools and nurseries across the city. In addition, some of the applicants were supported to gain further qualifications to enable them to become early years practitioners. This demonstrates that positive action measures can be used to diversify the education workforce in Scotland. Similar actions should be explored for diversifying the teaching profession also.
  • GTC Scotland has worked in partnership with Black and minority ethnic teachers from across Scotland, and the Scottish Government to create case studies to encourage people from those backgrounds into the profession. These will be made available on the refreshed Teach in Scotland website.

The working group wrote to all eleven ITE providers asking for support to reach the target for diversifying the teaching profession by 2030. The letter can be seen in Annex D. Responses were received from all eleven providers affirming the need for greater ethnic diversity within Scotland's teaching workforce. The responses shared examples of action already taken (see Annex E).

As a result the SCDE have agreed that the range of examples provided show an excellent resource for pooling ideas for practice to better embed race equality into their structures and frameworks. Each institution has now agreed to draw up an action plan for embedding race equality to assist diversify the teaching profession. These action plans will support the framework for Diversity that the Council will be adopting.

Areas still requiring progress

While the work of the West Partnership is an example of very good collaboration and the pro-activeness of Glasgow City Council demonstrates that progress can be made, the gap between the authorities prepared to be proactive with those that either do not see the relevance of a pro-active race equality and anti-racist approach or are simply disinterested is too wide.

The working group wrote to all 32 local authorities to seek their support for Recommendation 14. A copy of the letter is included at Annex F.

Recommendation 14: Local authorities should recognise and support aspiring minority ethnic teachers and encourage them to apply for promotion both within schools and across the wider education service. As part of this, local authorities should examine how racism, institutional racism, bias (conscious or unconscious), and lack of awareness act as blocks to the promotion of Black and minority ethnic teachers. This should be done in partnership with Black and minority ethnic teachers who can inform such an exercise.

Responses were received from 18 of the 32 local authorities. Eight of these responses were made as a group response on behalf of the West Partnership group mentioned earlier. The general theme throughout a number of responses was that numbers were too small and the issue of teacher diversity is not perceived to be an issue. Those who responded reported that their recruitment practices complied with and support the aims of the Equality Act 2010. There were examples of positive practice such as the use of Service Level Agreements with organisations working with Black and minority ethnic communities to promote teaching as a career of choice with communities, parents and secondary aged young people (Fife), reviewing and updating guidance for school leaders, those engaged in professional development reviews and professional updates to improve the diversity of leadership within schools and nurseries (Stirling) and including early years centres and youth work as part of a multi-agency approach to diversifying the workforce (Edinburgh). A summary of these examples are included at Annex G.

However, the lack of pro-active engagement beyond generic compliance with the Equality Act 2010 has been very disappointing as has the lack of response from 14 authorities. This echoes an Audit Scotland report in 2009[11] which examined the impact of the race equality duty on council services. The Audit Scotland report found that councils found the race equality duty to be challenging and that there was limited evidence of the impact of it on service delivery. More than a decade later, the work of this working group unfortunately finds that some local authorities continue to lack impetus in addressing diverse recruitment, or have ignored it.

Our work suggests that some local authorities need to develop greater awareness and commitment to race equality.

This is crucial as local authorities are by far the single largest employer of teachers, and Black and minority ethnic teachers report how institutional bias (conscious or unconscious), institutional racism and lack of awareness of race issues continue to act as blocks to the recruitment, promotion and retention of Black and minority ethnic staff. For example, some local authorities who replied included a reference to compliance with Equality Act 2010, and only two described any action to support more Black and minority ethnic teachers to be successful in achieving promotion to Principal Teacher posts or other promoted posts. We will always find it difficult to appoint more headteachers from a Black and minority ethnic background if we have not first addressed the obstacles Black and minority ethnic teachers face when applying for their first promoted post.

An institutional culture can also impact on everyday experiences of these teachers. Ownership of diversifying the teaching profession needs to be taken seriously by key networks and organisations working with local authorities such as COSLA and ADES.

In addition, the curriculum within ITE at all levels needs to be systematically reviewed to ensure race equality and anti-racism are considered at depth and not included with a tokenistic or bolt-on approach. There is also a need to ensure the curriculum draws from diverse perspectives and acknowledges the contributions and achievements of a diverse range of people, including Black and minority ethnic people and communities. ITE providers need to be proactively diversifying their teaching and support staff and these aspects should be captured in any action plan for ITE in terms of diversifying the teaching profession.

2.3 Improving levels of data

The working group stressed that the availability of robust data is crucial in the delivery of the commitment to address the under-representation of Black and minority ethnic teachers in Scotland. While data exists, it needs to be improved to ensure a more consistent picture. There are also gaps in data that need to be addressed. The following areas have been progressed:

  • Through the work of the group, data has been gathered from HESA[12] on entrants to, and qualifiers from, ITE programmes in Scotland as well as data on the ethnicity of teachers in Scottish local authorities from the Teacher Census. As a result, a Scottish Government Learning Directorate Short Term Data working group was established to consider and agree an annual process of collecting this data on diversity in the teaching profession in Scotland in order to be able to inform future work as well as to measure and evaluate success. As a result, a new annual report, which draws together HESA and Teacher Census data, is in development which will be shared with the Strategic Board for Teacher Education, SCDE and other key groups, to inform on progress.
  • The monitoring of the diversity of the teaching workforce and progress towards the 4%[13] target is now embedded into the work of the Teacher Workforce Planning Advisory Group. This will ensure the diversity target is discussed each year as part of the workforce planning process.

Areas still requiring progress

  • Universities and local authorities should closely examine the new annual report to inform further actions to support the diversification of the teaching profession in Scotland.
  • Ethnicity should be routinely recorded as part of recruitment in the education sector. This should be accompanied by messages from communications and marketing in universities and local authorities to actively encourage those who apply and current staff to record ethnicity.

2.4 Student Placement Experiences and Support for Students

The following areas have been progressed:

  • The GTC Scotland has inserted a specific section on equality and diversity to be included within the Probationer Handbooks. The insert specifically provides information to probationer teachers about their obligations to promote equality and diversity, what to do if they witness or experience discrimination, how to report and receive support.
  • The Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE)'s Leadership and Mentoring Programme has been endorsed by Education Scotland. This programme is now offered to Black and minority ethnic probationers, newly qualified and established teachers across Scotland.
  • GTC Scotland Probationer Managers' Network has been supported by colleagues from SAMEE, GTC Scotland Council, GTC Scotland Early Careers team and Stepping Stones to raise awareness of the challenges encountered by Black and minority ethnic teachers, and to inform Probation Managers on how best to support newly qualified Black and minority ethnic teachers. Currently, this support is ongoing, within the wider remit of Covid – 19 support.
  • Future supports will be identified, alongside work being planned through Stepping Stones for those Black and minority ethnic teachers post probation.


Email: sian.balfour@gov.scot

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