A Diverse Teaching Profession Benefits All Pupils
Professor Rowena Arshad, the Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group
The Diversity in the Teaching Profession Working Group was convened initially to investigate the under representation of minority ethnic teachers in Scotland’s schools and in November 2018, Teaching in a diverse Scotland: increasing and retaining minority ethnic teachers was published.
The group was extended and for the past two and a half years, has been actively engaged in monitoring and driving forward the recommendations of the report. A copy of the final report and findings is here. There is still much to do for Scotland’s teaching workforce to better reflect the diversity of children and young people in Scottish schools.
A diverse teacher workforce benefits all pupils. For Black and minority ethnic pupils, having Black and minority ethnic teachers and leaders in our schools provides role models. As one young person said, you cannot imagine yourself in that role if you do not see people like you there. For ethnic majority pupils, it is important they encounter Black and minority ethnic people who can break the stereotypes that unfortunately still dominate. Having a diverse workforce disrupts an often one-sided portrayal of the world and a it can offer valuable different insights and perspectives to pupils from different backgrounds.
In Scotland, we have set ourselves a challenge to have at least 4% of our teaching workforce from visible minority ethnic backgrounds by 2030.
To recruit and retain Black and minority ethnic teachers, we need to significantly improve the racial awareness of our school leaders and their ability to recognise and address everyday forms of racism that can impact on the esteem and wellbeing of Black and minority ethnic teachers. We need a teaching workforce prepared to educate and act against racism and a school leadership prepared to support and sponsor the progression of Black and minority ethnic teachers already in the workforce. We need to have better baseline data which will help us to monitor progress.
Every education stakeholder, from those engaged in initial teacher education to those who employ and promote teachers, to those who provide continuous professional learning, all must take responsibility and play their part. Scotland has led the world on many innovative changes. I believe we can do so on this issue and become an exemplar of good practice to many other countries.