Who’s got my back? #BAMEed

I am by no means an expert on statistics and or indeed research methodology and outcomes. If I have made any mistakes do let me know and I will aim to learn about those mistakes and rectify them and if relevant my thought processes if need be.

For a little while on Twitter myself and a few amazing others have been talking about the lack of diversity within the educational sector as a profession in general and more specificaly in leadership positions. As a result of this whilst questioning about certain events/conferences, or speaking up about things I believe in I have been called the ‘Diversity Police.’ I have also been told that ‘words are just words and I should just get over it!’ When referring to an incident about being called a p*ki.

The sleeping yet snoring beast of inequality is evident firmly through the clear disparity between men and women. Almost 4 out 5 employees in state funded schools are women, yet less than 35% are in senior leadership positions.

#WomenEd‍ are doing an amazing job in addressing these concerns and through the powerhouse team they have drafted up they are making real movements through national conferences, governmental backing and so on.

HOWEVER, WHAT ABOUT BAME EDUCATORS/TEACHERS? MEMBERS OF THE BLACK, ASIAN, MINORITY ETHNIC COMMUNITIES SPECIFICALLY?

BME- is often used to refer to the same thing as BAME. However, it stands for Black and Minority Ethnic, whereas BAME includes Asian. Both do in effect, however, as I do, many prefer the term BAME, rather than BME.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-08-40-49
Interest example given- Around 20%- the figures are: Around 6% in Primary Sector, around 10% in Secondary and around 7% in HE. Ref.

My previous blog here included asking people to BE ME IN ED. I also touched on the concept of ‘White Privilege’ too. Do have a read to reflect on your current position and thinking? There are also some stark figures/statistics provided about the current situation.

Despite some occasional new stories, a TES article or two, an odd panel at a conference, the idea of addressing inequality in terms of race and ethnicity is a lonely somewhat dulling voice.

The percentage of teachers (where details are known) recorded as White British has decreased from 87.5 per cent in 2014 to 87.0 per cent in 2015. Ref.

So, BAME staff numbers are increasing, yet we are still not able to find these senior positions. I am personally, to my knowledge the only Asian, Male AHT in the city schools in Oxford. This applies in all areas, primary, secondary, higher and further ed.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, agrees: “It’s absolutely the case that ethnic minority teachers are unrepresented in the teaching profession, but more so in school leadership roles and that’s worrying in a multicultural society because children need to see teachers and school leaders from BAME role models to show the importance of education.”

The above table has been ‘personalised’ to me. Those are the current statistics. In isolation some can refute their meaning. You can say without further details these are ‘useless.’ Details of how many BAME applicants do not get interviewed? How many do not get accepted on a PGCE/Schools Direct? (According to the National College for Teaching and Leadership only around 12% of applications are from BAME students. This has been the case for around 5 years. I wrote about the affect of Teaching not being seen as a profession one can reach the pinnacle in as a member of BAME.) Or, we could just say, that BAME candidates are simply not good enough. I think there is more to it than the idea of meritocracy.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers suggests schools-based teacher-training has exacerbated the pipeline problem for recruiting minority ethnic teachers. She said: “Ethnic minority candidates are less likely to get accepted into these training programmes because of bias.”

Now, (God Willing), I intend to become a Head Teacher if I get good enough and improve massively as a leader. However, just based on ability, skill and credentials will I get there?

Sure, I will try, I will give my all. But, will the invisible barriers of oppression and prejudice win? Or, will I just simply be good enough. As my faith teaches me, a lot of flowers make a bouquet. However, does this table represent a self fulfilling prophecy, or the ‘Golum’ effect. Do teachers simply think, well, there is no point.

I also think of the Head Teachers I see that are BAME they are either Sirs or MBEs! What does this tell me too…

“Even the most talented individual will not achieve their potential if they don’t aim high. I believe that many black teachers do not even attempt to reach the next stage on the career ladder because of the belief that they will not be appointed.” Sir William Atkinson, headteacher of Phoenix High School, London.

When I look around schools, I see many scientists, mathematicians, poets, historical figures, playwrights, who are celebrated, taught about and idolised. Be it directly through the curriculum, or through ‘inspirational posters/quotes’ or through naming of colleges/year areas/houses. However, how many of these are non-white? How many do our students see as prominent, amazing people of colour who have made a change to this world? Then…how many professionals do they interact with daily? How many are BAME? How many parents meet with a BAME in a senior position? What affect is this having? Do young people think Teaching and the challenges of teaching and becoming a senior leaders just aren’t for BAME? Will more positive role models overall improve attainment. I think so.

Does the English Premier League represent these same issues? With the lack of Asian footballers? or Black/Asian managers?

Christine Blower, general-secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It is very important that the teaching profession, alongside all other professions, is representative of modern British society. The prejudice and barriers that BAME communities face mean that many do not consider teaching as a profession despite the important role they could play.”

Statistics show that BAME students make up around 26% of the student population in the UK. for secondary schools. If they never see people like them being successful the message is already stunted. BUT, I do not want BAME teachers and HeadTeachers drafted solely into areas where there are higher numbers of BAME students, but to be represented across the UK. Everybody benefits from diversity. This is what makes Britain, Great.

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Ref.

Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, head of research at the Runnymede Trust, says research supports this recommendation. She said: “Where minority ethnic pupils have a negative experience of education they are less likely to consider teaching as a potential future career.

Nicky Morgan pledged £30,000 to help schools encourage BAME teachers into SLT positions- it has been a year so far will there be any update? Do you know of anybody that has benefited from this?

What about previous attempts? Challenge to London; What was the impact?

Ofsted published their Equalities Objectives in April 2016 with three clear objectives. Yet, I have not seen other people blogging about this. Or other institutions setting out their own objectives to address these areas?

Objective 1
In all its inspections, Ofsted will assess the extent to which providers demonstrate due regard to the equality duty.

Objective 3
Ofsted will promote equal opportunities for its entire workforce, including both staff and directly contracted Ofsted Inspectors, tackling bullying and discrimination whenever it occurs.

Furthermore, general inequalities remain in prominent educational events. There is a clear lack of representation. Which led me to create this Google Doc. to get BAME educators to sign up so we can state to organisers there are others out there! I have personally be accessed of not putting myself forward, or that BAME are not attending events enough. However, despite doing both, it hasn’t made much difference. I will persevere.

Ultimately, I have expressed an interest to run a conference, to set up #EDUCOLOUR alongside the US #EDUColor where there are lots of people involved. But, what about here in the UK? I must also stress I am not advocating anybody simply being appointed because of their race/ethnicity. I will also stress that the best person should get the job. But, we must address the process, the support and the feedback too.

We need your help? Will you get involved? Will you support us? Find a colleague who is BAME, ask them to get in touch, together, all of us, BAME or not, can make a difference.

Here is what you can do for starters…

  • Get in touch & stay in touch by signing up with some of your information here
  • Spread the word- start by writing your own blog on staffrm.io an example has been written by Allana Gay here
  • Ask your school to explore the idea of Cultural Literacy- click here for more info.
  • Does your school have a Diversity Policy? Look around? Ask questions…

And…

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Cover image from here; ‘I too, am Oxford.’

I would like to organise this for BAME Teachers. I too, am a Teacher… watch this space.

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”

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8 comments

  1. This is important. And it’s important that it doesn’t just become BAME working towards equality for BAME. Just as men need to champion the cause for equality to include women, so must all of us champion the cause for equality to include BAME people.
    Let me know what you need us to do. I am right here

  2. As a BAME female governor I’d like to say that the vast majority of governors would like to appoint the best person to the job, irrespective of race, colour, creed, religion etc. They can be an alien from space for all I care! As long as they are what my students and staff need I’m happy (of course they will need to get a DBS!). Unless and until we have evidence that governors are discriminating against candidates all this is conjecture. There have been lots of comments about not enough BAME speakers at conferences and I’ve usually asked where are the participants. The answer I usually get is that maybe they don’t attend because they don’t see BAME presenting. Well, at the recent wonderful #WomenEd Unconference there were BAME presenters. There was also a BAME panel and the steering group also has BAME representation. Despite all this I only saw a few BAME attendees. If BAME teachers aren’t attending educational events then maybe the same reason is why they aren’t applying to leadership positions too. I’d be really interested in seeing data on ethnicity of applicants if anyone has it.
    (By the way I don’t think it’s right for anyone to say to you what they did after the p**i incident).

    • ‘Unless and until we have evidence that governors are discriminating against candidates all this is conjecture.’
      I don’t think I mention Governors are discriminating.
      Do you have data on how many non BAME apply for positions?
      Also, I have examples of applications to said events, where the response was, we do not keep diversity of applicants. Anyhow, that is a separate issue.
      When you say lack of BAME representation at these events, 10% would be a good representation. So how many were there in WomenEd for example?

  3. We all benefit, staff as well as students, from diversity in school, whatever our own ethnicity. Well done for highlighting this issue Amjad. In terms of recruitment, a school can only appoint from those who apply, so I think developing leadership and encouraging applications to SLT positions is the key. BTW St Greg’s has a male South Asian AHT too.

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