The treatment of BME (black, ethnic minority) teachers in UK schools has not improved over the last years, and the contribution of BME teachers in the school system generally goes unrecognised and undervalued. That was the message from NASUWT’s BME Teachers’ Consultation Conference yesterday.
Hundreds of BME members of NASUWT from across the UK attended the annual conference in Birmingham to discuss the challenges they face in the workplace and to participate in workshops and meetings.
The conference, the largest BME teachers’ conference in Europe, heard repeated concerns about racial discrimination in schools and the failure of schools to properly address racial prejudice.
During the conference a real-time electronic poll of the attendants found that:
- 78% do not think the work and contribution of BME teachers is recognised and valued by schools
- 58% do not think treatment of BME teachers has improved in the last decade
- Only 36% feel outcomes for BME pupils have improved in the last decade
- 98% feel that racism continues to be a serious problem in the UK today
- 53% do not see themselves still being in the teaching profession in the next five years, with 31% saying they are planning to change career and the rest saying they plan to retire or take a break from the profession
Throughout the conference delegates heard from NASUWT and trade union activists who encouraged the members to be active in the union to make sure the voice of BME teachers is listened to.
NASUWT’s General Secretary Chris Keates said:
BME teachers have poor experiences across the school system. This inequality of treatment is impacting on BME teachers’ wellbeing outside work. Discrimination is wearing them down and for many teachers the oppression they experience exists on multiple levels-skin colour, age, gender, disability and sexuality.
Ms Keates went on to detail some of the ways racial discrimination affects BME teachers in schools – who earn less on average than their white colleagues and are twice as likely to be placed on (or threatened with) ‘capability’ procedures. Also, a recent NASUWT survey found that 60% of BME teachers say they have been denied any pay progression. Ms Keates condemned these apparent injustices and warned that UK schools could face a significant loss of talent in the teaching profession if BME teachers chose to leave for another career.
Our recent survey shows that 66% of BME teachers, already underrepresented in the teaching workforce, have seriously considered leaving the profession in the last twelve months.
This has to end. Nothing will change until the statutory provisions governing teachers’ contractual and working conditions are strengthened and until the unfair, unjust and discriminatory practices are vigourously challenged and tackled.
If governments and employers fail to act, the NASUWT will.
We will not stand by and let race by taken off the agenda. We will fight prejudice, injustice and racism wherever we find it.