Teaching in a diverse Scotland: increasing and retaining minority ethnic teachers

This report aims to increase the number of teachers from under-represented groups at all levels in Scottish Schools.

1. Executive Summary

1.1 The lack of ethnic diversity in the teaching profession is not new and requires all organisations involved in Scottish education to work together more effectively to make a sustained and meaningful difference. The Scottish Government's commitment to working with a variety of partners to address this issue is welcomed and the formation of the Working Group in conjunction with support from across the public sector provides the opportunity to make much needed progress in this area.

1.2 Not only does Scottish national data show that the makeup of the teacher workforce is not reflective of the Scottish population, there was agreement from all who were interviewed, who took part in focus groups or provided written submissions with regard to diversity in the teaching profession, that action was now needed to address this. There was awareness, particularly from local authorities, of the Public Sector Equality Duties[2] and of the need to address occupational segregation (e.g. primary teaching is still predominantly female). However, it was clear that race/race equality was simply not on the agenda for many. CRER's research into the 2017 Public Sector Equality Duties (PSED) outcomes[3] demonstrated that public bodies need to do far more to take action on race equality and to do so beyond provision of English language support.

1.3 A relative lack of ethnic diversity in the population of some parts of Scotland should not be an excuse for inaction. It is the responsibility of all key contributors to the teaching profession to work pro-actively to better ensure the workforce is representative of Scottish society and that the current workforce is able to recognise and address racism and promote equality for all. For example, universities offering teacher education programmes and employers need to more effectively support minority ethnic students and staff, who may feel isolated, and create genuinely inclusive environments and experiences for all teachers and pupils. This sense of guaranteed inclusivity and holistic support is central to attracting a wider range of Scotland's population to teaching as a life-long career.

1.4 Action is therefore required and necessary from all involved in teaching, including universities, local authorities and schools to effectively engage with this issue by promoting teaching as an attractive and worthwhile career for minority ethnic students and then being committed to supporting them throughout their careers. Action is also required to educate all concerned on how such diversification can be supported and how everyday racism as well as unconscious bias become deterrents and disablers.

1.5 This report demonstrates that a number of systematic cultural and institutional factors are contributing to the overall failure to ensure a broader representation of ethnic groups in the teaching profession. Education is a vital public service that influences the lives of all children and young people living in Scotland. Children and young people today live in a world that is increasingly networked, diverse and complex. It is more important than ever that the education system reflects the diverse, fair and inclusive society we all want to live in. It is now time for change by using the information we have more effectively, and collecting data to track improvements in the diversity of the teaching profession to create a culture and profession that fully represents the diverse workforce Scotland seeks to promote.

Implementation and monitoring

1.6 As with the wider objectives of the Race Equality Framework, the Working Group recognises that achieving the goal of increased diversity in the teaching profession will take a number of years to achieve. The Working Group intends to reconvene and expand its membership to monitor the implementation of the recommendations. It believes that in the two-year period following this report, the group should continue to meet on a regular basis to provide oversight of the implementation of this suite of recommendations.


In order to support that process the Working Group have proposed the following recommendations.

Closing the awareness gap

1. The current review of Professional Standards for teachers by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) should ensure that race issues are explicitly referenced within the context of inclusion, equality and diversity.

2. By August 2019 the SBTE should commission a plan to raise awareness of how everyday racism, institutional racism or bias manifests itself within education settings.

3. By August 2019 Education Scotland should update all of their educational leadership programmes to include content that develops understanding of how everyday racism, institutional racism or bias impacts in the workplace and to be able to identify steps for addressing this.

4. Local authorities should ensure that the need to recruit and support a diverse workforce is understood by all relevant staff. By August 2019 COSLA should indicate what steps they have taken to ensure that responsibilities in this area are firmly embedded into recruitment processes.

5. Local authorities and schools should recognise multilingual teachers as valuable members of staff who are able and capable of enhancing the learning of a wide range of pupils, not just pupils for whom English is an Additional Language.

Attractiveness of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) to students from minority ethnic backgrounds

6. Local authorities, ITE providers, Skills Development Scotland, the GTCS, Scottish Government and relevant third sector organisations who have experience in this area should take joint action to encourage young minority ethnic people to identify teaching as a profession of choice.

7. Education Scotland, through its work with the Curriculum Resource Group, should ensure that curricular materials available to teachers better reflect racial diversity and that quality anti-racist resources exist alongside appropriate staff development for teachers and clear guidance on how resources should be used.

Effectiveness of university admissions processes in attracting a diverse range of applicants

8. Universities providing ITE and the GTCS should examine national entry requirements, selection, admissions and interviewing practices to ensure that institutional barriers, conscious or unconscious bias do not deter applicants from being selected.

9. University admission systems for ITE to take steps to ensure the varied skills and experiences of minority ethnic applicants are appropriately valued and that equivalencies are recognised particularly for those with qualifications from overseas.

10. Universities providing ITE should gather new data about application, interview and completion rates for minority ethnic students. This work should start in the 2019/20 academic year and to be shared with the Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group.

Student placement experiences and support for students

11. Universities providing ITE should use the Self-Evaluation Framework published in September 2018[4] to evidence the ways in which culturally-responsive pedagogies and anti-racist education are embedded in their curriculum content.

12. Starting in 2019, as part of their accreditation of ITE Programmes, GTCS should ensure that universities add specific guidance to programme and placement handbooks providing clear advice to students on the support they can access if they experience discrimination or harassment.

13. Local Authorities should prepare more detailed guidance to support probationer teachers and teacher mentors to understand the legal and statutory requirements with respect to race equality and diversity, and their rights as employees should they face discrimination or harassment.

Retaining students and teachers from minority backgrounds while supporting promotion at all levels

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 BME teachers. This should be done in partnership with BME teachers who can inform such an exercise.

15. A national mentoring network for minority ethnic staff should be established by March 2019. This network should be developed and led by the GTCS, working in partnership with BME teachers and relevant groups who have experience in this area. The mentoring process should include the ability to spend time in another school or authority to shadow a promoted member of staff.

Responsibility of the Education Sector

16. All education stakeholders must ensure public facing opportunities e.g. website, promotional flyers, marketing brochures for ITE programmes or courses reflect the diversity of Scotland's population and should ensure conferences and high-profile events include keynotes, presenters, discussants and workshop leaders from a range of diverse backgrounds.

17. Boards and other bodies involved in the governance of Scottish education should ensure their membership includes representation from minority ethnic teachers, this includes the membership of the GTCS, the Scottish Education Council, Teachers' Panel, Curriculum Advisory Board, the Education Leaders Forum and the SBTE.


Email: Kelly Ireland

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