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NFER: Bursaries could help non-white teachers become heads

Bursaries to help non-white teachers get on the leadership ladder and a specific teacher training route for those without required qualifications could be considered to boost workforce diversity, a new report has suggested.

The ‘ethnic diversity in the teaching workforce’ evidence review, published by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), states “people of colour are considerably under-represented in the teaching workforce, especially among school leaders”.

The report found around 60 per cent of schools in England had all-white teaching staff in 2021-22, with 86 per cent having an all-white senior leadership team.

Katherine Aston, Research Manager at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), said the “message from the research was clear. Teachers of colour report being socially excluded, stereotyped, rejected for promotions or professional development, and experience overt racism.”

She said four times as many teachers of colour would need to be promoted to headteacher positions – around 2,500 more – for the role to become representative of the wider population.

Meanwhile, non-white teachers are less likely to be accepted onto teacher training than their white counterparts, NFER research published in 2022 found.

Today’s report, funded by Mission 44, a charitable foundation launched by Sir Lewis Hamilton, sets out recommendations to tackle the issue.

NFER said interventions in initial teacher training (ITT) “must be a priority” due to the acceptance rates gap.

They called for an investigation into the disparity and strategies to combat it, with all teacher trainers to implement equality, diversity and inclusion policies.

All ITT programmes should also include content on anti-racism as part of their curriculum “to raise awareness of the issues among all trainees and to support trainee teachers of colour”.

Another proposal is to offer an “alternative pathway” for non-white people without the required qualifications to enter training.

‘Catalyst for change’

Meanwhile in school leadership, the academics called for school “selection panels for senior posts to include people of colour” and training, support networks and tailored mentoring. 

“There may be a need for bursaries to enable teachers of colour, especially those from socio-economically deprived backgrounds, to undertake leadership development”, the report added.

The report also criticised the lack of “specific government targets, programmes or funding in England to improve the ethnic diversity in the teaching workforce”, calling for change.

They highlighted Scotland has committed to achieving representative ethnic diversity among teachers by 2030.

Schools Week revealed in 2020 the Department for Education axed millions of pounds of funding for its teacher diversity hubs scheme in a move branded “disgraceful”.

Jason Arthur, chief executive at Mission 44, said: “By highlighting the key barriers and enablers to a more diverse education system, it is our hope this report acts as a catalyst for change.”

Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The under-representation of teachers from Black communities in the workforce has been discussed many times without being effectively addressed.

“In the midst of a deepening crisis of recruitment and retention, these are issues that the government should not be overlooking.”

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

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