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New research to take in-depth look at how racial equality in teacher workforce can be improved

Nov. 5, 2021

A new research study on racial equality in the teacher workforce in England will explore the under-representation and career progression opportunities in the teaching profession among people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

The study, due to be published in spring 2022, is being conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in partnership with Ambition Institute and Teach First.

Existing research suggests people from a BAME background are less likely to be accepted on teacher training courses, retained in the profession and progress to more senior levels, including headship and executive leadership positions. 

The study will provide a detailed overview of racial equality throughout the teacher workforce. It aims to better understand the varied experiences of different ethnic groups and whether there are differences at regional levels. Its key objective is to highlight the particular stages of the teacher career path where action by the education sector to improve racial equality is likely to be most effective.

The report will provide new quantitative analysis of ethnic representativeness at all levels of the teaching workforce. Further detailed analysis will look at recruitment, retention and progression throughout the teaching journey, from applications to initial teacher training to moving into senior positions, including becoming headteachers.

Speaking on behalf of the research group, Jack Worth, school workforce lead at NFER, said:

“It’s crucial we have an ethnically diverse teacher workforce that reflects wider society and ensures there are equal opportunities for all to enter the teaching profession and progress within it.

“Current evidence on racial equality in England’s teaching workforce is fragmented and incomplete. Our analysis will develop a clearer understanding of the extent to which the opportunity to enter, stay in and progress in teaching is unequal between ethnic groups and understand some of the drivers behind this.

“Our aim is for this study to inform thinking in the education sector about what next steps can be taken to solve this persistent challenge.”

NFER, Ambition Institute and Teach First will be supported in this work by an advisory group, including the Chartered College of Teaching, Confederation of School Trusts and practicing teachers and school leaders.