By Reena Kumar
“Institutional racism” still plays a key part in hindering Asian and black teachers from progressing in their careers, a new report has found.
The poll conducted by the Runnymede Trust, also revealed that the government’s Prevent strategy was placing an additional burden on Asian and Muslim teachers.
Black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in the UK said they were often saddled with stereotypical roles in schools and wanted more support from senior staff in handling incidents of racism.
The study commissioned by the National Union of Teachers, (NUT) polled over 1,000 teachers from minority backgrounds who said they were most likely to be told to organise school events such as Black History Month, or tasked with behaviour responsibilities rather than being given more challenging teaching or leadership roles.
The report stated: “Institutional racism – often manifested in subtle and covert ‘microaggressions’ by senior staff – still plays a key part in the barriers to career progression for black teachers in many British primary and secondary schools”.
Zubaida Haque, a research associate at the Runnymede Trust, said: “Our survey found that BME teachers were not only overwhelmed with the mountain of paperwork but they are also beaten down by the everyday ‘microaggressions’ in the staff room and the low expectations and support by senior staff in their schools.
“This has led to BME teachers feeling undervalued, isolated and disillusioned with their careers. If BME and white pupils see BME teachers being treated unequally, this sends out unacceptable signals to the next generation. For this reason, both schools and the government must do everything in their power to tackle the barriers faced by BME teachers in schools.”
Many Asian respondents highlighted the detrimental impact of ‘casual stereotypes’ and Islamophobia from both staff and pupils on their confidence and self-esteem in their careers and promotions.
In an interview conducted alongside the poll, an Indian male primary school teacher said: “Senior leadership tends to be middle aged white middle class people who have been teachers all their lives. They are often unable to understand the complexities of these issue and students are less likely to relate when all their senior staff are the ‘same’.”
Another British Pakistani male secondary school teacher, stated: “I felt the school was institutionally racist, but as the only BME staff member I was unsure if and how to challenge it.”
Some teachers however reported a zero tolerance to racism from senior leadership, and many were positive about their treatment.
Around 60 per cent of those surveyed reported that they were considering leaving the profession altogether, while more than half said their school was not a welcoming environment for BME children.