BAME Teachers subjected to Unconscious Bias
BAME teachers have been marginalised in education for a long time and everyone must come together in order to tackle the issue.
There is a clear issue around the recruitment and retention of BAME teachers within the school workforce.
Schools have been considering many proposed solutions: promises to reduce workload and challenging the traditional reticence around flexible working practices and job shares.
The Department for Education (DfE) has even launched a jobs board platform which is aimed at reducing the costs for recruitment that are often crippling for schools.
While the impact is managed at the foundation, there is hardly any attention being paid at the top which influences the experience below.
The marginalisation of BAME teachers is an area that needs to be addressed.
It is an area which could have an effect on the existing and potential population of the workforce, as well as on the success and wellbeing of students.
BAME teachers have been marginalised in a system that seems to have hardly changed since the 1980s.
This was when the Swann report identified that ethnic minorities were underrepresented in teaching.
Research in 2017 confirmed that BAME educators are consistently the victims of systemic racism, which sees them overlooked for promotion and undermined.
This is showcased not only through policy and practice around curriculum design, recruitment and performance management, but also through daily examples of micro-aggressions and behaviours from their colleagues.
The term ‘unconscious bias’ has been coined to try to explain why this may happen, but there is less commitment in finding ways to reduce the practices which fuel it.
Education secretary Damian Hinds was recently heard declaring that “far more teachers from ethnic minorities” are needed in schools and to be role models for their pupils.
It is essential in society for both students from BAME and non-BAME backgrounds.
Having a workforce that reflects its pupils essential to good teaching and learning.
This was highlighted in the McKinsey Report which argued that having a diverse workforce led to better teamwork and more successful decision-making.
If a change in attitudes is to happen, then there needs to be BAME role models for fellow colleagues from all backgrounds, for governors and trustees and for students from non-BAME backgrounds also.
If BAME people are to be accepted as credible teachers, they need to be at every level in the school’s workforce.
The BAMEed Network is a grassroots organisation which was founded in 2017. It has been working towards improving the retention and development of teachers from diverse backgrounds.
They have also made some headway in making the issue more of a priority.
As well as inputting into policy and thought leadership on the issue, the BAMEed Network has a deeply practical approach to supporting BAME teachers and leaders and their non-BAME colleagues nationwide to understand and act to reduce systemic racism in the education sector.