It appears that there seems to be a lot more movement and interest in BME in education as of late. BUT, I do not feel we are anywhere near where we need to be, just yet…?
(I originally posted this in @Staffrm- you can read the post and comments here. I have shared this post on my blog here too so I can expand on the 500 word limit and get some more ideas/feedback…)
I am a BME teacher… BME= Black and/or Minority Ethnic member of society. I am a proud English man. I am pleased and honoured to be a member of the United Kingdom.
BME stands for Black and Minority Ethnicity, which includes members of the following British and international ethnicities: Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Indian other, Chinese, Asian other, Black African, Black Caribbean, other Black background, White and Asian mixed, White and African Caribbean mixed, other mixed. (Ref.)
Can you be me in education? Can you be a BME educator? Put yourself in my shoes?
Can you know what it feels like to be an Asian, male, Muslim, (youngish) person trying to make your way up the ladder in education?
I mean, it probably isn’t an issue for you. Why would it be. Why would you need to consider this as something to think about…mostly, I guess, you don’t.
If you follow Steph Green’s ‘i Model’ then maybe you should…
Is the ‘issue’
- Personal– What does it mean to me?
- Interpersonal– How do we do it?
- Institutional– What do institutions/organisations do?
- Internationally– How is it enforced?
Even if an issue does not affect you personally, maybe you are involved subconsciously inter-personally, institutionally and globally?
I have raised the issue of being a member of BME in education with colleagues, friends and others before and they have literally rolled their eyes and chuckled at me. They look at me and say, but Amjad, you are an Assistant Head Teacher. You have worked hard and now you are here. Simple. But, is it!? (Personally for me, this isn’t about me!) I wonder, why is it because I have achieved some form of success in my career I can not raise the problem at hand for others? For us? For you?.
Aside from my career progression do others forget or ignore elements of personal abuse/discrimination/racism from students/parents that I have faced being a member of BME educators group.
82% said they (BME Teachers) had been discriminated, harassed or intimidated at work because of their colour or ethnic background; (Ref.)
Recently- I even had a really prominent figure in the educational world tell me, but words are just words and I shouldn’t take them for anything but that. I wonder how many times this white, middle class male had been called a Paki/terrorist/Nigga.
Self reflective questions:
- Can you tell if there is an misrepresentation of people of a particular minority or majority in your school?
- What are the characteristics of your senior leadership team? Does it matter?
- What is the make up of your teaching/support staff in your school?
- If a school has a high percentage of BME students on roll, should the teaching staff/leadership represent this diversity?
Do you notice?
White privilege is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. (Ref.)
I mean freedom from these issues itself, is a privilege in itself, right? Do you think these (the problems that you may not face), are simply conditions of daily life accessible for all; if so, you have white privilege. However, remember white privilege is an institutional issue as opposed to an individual person. (Further reading here.)
I have had lots of interactions about this topic since writing this blog. I have continued reading and want to educate myself. However, this term white privilege can be seen as racist. This article here explains why. I must say, I kind of agree. So… what now!
After sharing this post via Twitter, a Sociology teacher colleague of mine ran a revision session using this post as a basis of a starter activity. This was a summary of student responses:
- Their analysis was that the intersection of social inequality means that one inequality can not be separated from another and therefore can not be discussed in isolation in terms of social research and discourse (realism)
- They didn’t like the term “white privilege” they prefer “social privilege” to reflect this as you can be white, working class and a woman and therefore experience this “under-privilege” and under representation is through a number of narratives
Try this activity:
All stand in a line… step forward if you are white, step forward again if you are male, again if you are upper/middle class/professional. Again if you attended university. And, again if you are heterosexual. Step back if you are female, again if you are BME, again if you are homosexual and again if you are Muslim?
Does the gap represent the gaps in our society?
We know gender inequality is prevalent. I have read many great posts via @StaffRM by @helenamarsh and @jillberry for example. I have also noticed a leadership conference being organised with/by people like @nataliescott and @jude etc! But, think how big a problem being an ethnic minority in education is too?
Only 104 secondary school headteachers in the UK are from Black Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds in the UK– that’s just 3%
Only 39 Black Head Teachers in Secondary Education in the UK! (Ref)
In the last 12 months almost half (47%) said they had experienced discrimination in relation to their pay and career progression
I am in no way/shape or form suggesting one problem is more ‘important’ than the other, but I would like to implore all to think of #BMEINED too. Many people agree, but, I do not think this issue should be a thorny, or hard to talk about one. Lets talk about it, to talk about the issues.
The Government is changing too, the landscape is changing further. For instance the removal of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant along with the eradication of the requirement of Ofsted assessing schools on their statutory duty to comply with community cohesion. Also, ministers have decided that schools do not need to report racist incidents or bullying anymore.
A freedom of information request from the TES found that the governments own training programme- Schools Direct. There is a clear disparity between the number of BME trainee teachers being placed on the programme, compared to the number of BME teachers in Education/Teaching related courses.
“Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced that all UK schools can now bid for £30,000 in funding to support their BME staff progress into senior leadership positions. She said “good school leadership teams should reflect the diversity of the teaching profession and recent figures show that there are still significant gaps – particularly for BME individuals”.
Is this enough?
Why? What is happening?
Just a point to note- I do not enjoy/accept/like being invited to an interview/event/teachmeet or whatever simply because I am a member of the BME community. Because I am not a white male. I do not enjoy the term urban either. I do not feel that all events have to have a cross section of everybody. The panel should be selected on what makes for a strong benefit to the attendees. However, a closed zone, or a particular reinforcement model of having a shared group of thought is a problem. Group-Think?
I simply value people achieving on merit. It is only when discrimination and prejudice interrupt this potential achievement that I am left feeling deeply dismayed.
This issue was raised with an organiser of a large upcoming successful event in October. Somebody asked why out of the 32 speakers there was not a single BME educator. The response was astounding. Firstly, he asked what was BME and then I was blocked without a response to me directly.
So to help, click here to join a network of BME educators in the country. The idea is to provide organisers with a bank of BME educators they can tap into to.
- By @EquitableEducation! http://www.equitableeducation.co.uk/uploads/1/5/5/9/15597724/the_leadership_aspirations_and_careers_of_black_and_minority_ethnic_teachers.pdf