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.

4. Final Points

Whilst much has been achieved through the Diversity in the Teaching Profession working group to create the structural conditions for change, there is clearly much more still to do in order to realise our collective ambition of a teaching workforce which reflects Scotland's diversity. In terms of numbers, small improvements have been seen in recent years, however the 2022 population census will likely mean that the target set in the original report of 4% will need to be revised.

All those involved in the Scottish education system have a role to play in addressing this issue and the working group would suggest that the following should provide a focus for action:

  • Racism continues to be experienced by Black and minority ethnic people in Scotland across all aspects of society, including education. Educators and leaders at all levels of the system need to approach racism as a structural issue and not just at a personal level (that is about individuals 'getting on' or being excluded). There is a need to become actively anti-racist. Becoming anti-racist means acknowledging that racism exists, even when we do not immediately see it or understand it in our individual contexts. Being anti-racist also means proactively uncovering and countering racism wherever it exists, not just addressing racist incidents when they occur. Efforts to improve diversity in the teaching profession must strongly focus on getting it right for those Black and minority ethnic teachers already in the profession, who continue to experience significant barriers and inequality in the realisation of Fair Work, due to racism.
  • Professional learning offers, developed to enhance the diversity of the teaching profession should support participants to develop as anti-racist educators and leaders with clearly agreed outcomes leading to tangible change.

It should also be recognised that the racism faced by Black and minority ethnic people has changed over the years. Whereas there is still some overt and deliberate racism in society, racism has mutated and today microaggressions and unconscious bias are more common facets. It is necessary to identify microaggressions and act to ensure a fair and just workplace and teaching workforce.

Black and minority ethnic teachers continue to face structural barriers at every step of their career from considering teaching as a career through to applying for headship. In order to address these issues, two strands of work should be developed in tandem as follows:

  • All institutions involved in the career of a teacher, from ITE providers to schools and local authorities, should review and address the barriers in place to supporting Black and minority ethnic teachers to progress into and through teaching. For example, do the admissions processes used by ITE providers, present additional barriers to Black and minority ethnic candidates? Do the recruitment policies developed by local authorities, and applied by schools, encourage and support Black and minority ethnic teachers, including probationers, to remain, and thrive, in the profession? Such a review needs to involve Black and minority ethnic students (current and former), Black and minority ethnic staff, teachers and those with proven expertise on taking forward anti-racism in education.
  • A national offer of support with a focus on sponsorship should be developed and implemented to support Black and minority ethnic teachers at each stage of their career to progress whilst the structural barriers remain in place.

The above actions would help in ensuring not only equality of opportunity but also equality of success and advancement.

Effective leadership at all levels is crucial in order to make progress towards a more diverse teaching profession. This requires all existing, and future, leaders to play their role in addressing the structural barriers facing Black and minority ethnic teachers. However, we also need more focused leadership at a national level to ensure that all stakeholders are progressing this agenda and to ensure that a coherent offer of sponsorship is developed and delivered equitably. The working group therefore recommends that a new national post is created to take this work forward and that it should be placed within an organisation such as GTC Scotland.

Locating the post there will align well with the increased focus given to equality and diversity in the refreshed and revised Professional Standards for Teachers launched in January 2021. It will also support GTC Scotland's plans to provide teachers with opportunities to engage, explore and better understand the relevance of the Professional Standards and how they influence their thinking and practice. In creating this national post, we should also ensure that the person is well supported with resources.

The effective use of data is key to informing action taken to diversify the teaching profession and in evaluating the success of these actions. The working group therefore recommends that a new annual publication of data relating to the ethnicity of teachers in Scotland is developed. This could initially focus on publishing the data sets collated by the working group, but should expand in breadth over time to encompass data from all aspects of teaching in Scotland. Such a publication should also identify where data would be useful but are currently gaps needing addressed.

The working group asks the Strategic Board for Teacher Education to provide leadership and account for how this report's key messages are being taken forward. Where there are action plans produced by stakeholders to take forward the diversifying of the teaching profession, these should be publicly available in the interest of transparency and accountability. This work should also align with the work taken forward by the Scottish Government's Race Equality in Education Group. We would recommend that the recently formed Race Equality Stakeholder Group considers creating a subgroup to evaluate the progress towards the key actions from this report and publishes a report in 18 months to ensure that the recommendations have been acted upon.

Professor Emerita Rowena Arshad CBE, FEIS

On behalf of the Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group


Email: sian.balfour@gov.scot

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