Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Institutional Racism' Holds Back BME Teachers

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Institutional Racism' Holds Back BME Teachers

Article excerpt

Academy boss says the public would be 'appalled' by statistics

Black and ethnic minority (BME) teachers are being held back by "institutional racism" in the education system, the chief executive of an academy trust has warned.

David Hermitt (pictured below, inset), executive principal of Congleton High School in Cheshire and chief executive of Congleton Multi-Academy Trust, told TES that government data revealed an "appalling" shortage of BME teachers in the most senior jobs.

This was caused in part by a lack of BME individuals entering the profession, and in part because the "structures and systems" within education made it more difficult for them to succeed, he said.

The most recent figures from the Department for Education show that 97.3 per cent of headteachers at state schools in England are white. Just 0.7 per cent of school leaders are from an Indian background and 0.6 per cent are from a black Caribbean background.

Mr Hermitt said part of the problem lay with governing bodies, which in some cases saw appointing a non-white headteacher as a "risk".

"In an interview process where you have three very credible candidates, one of whom might be of colour, you are not necessarily going to pick the person of colour if you believe someone else will do an equally good job," he said.

Asked why he believed this to be the case, Mr Hermitt said: "There's a whole range of institutional racism issues that mean people feel as though they might be taking a risk."

Mr Hermitt, who works with the National College for Teaching and Leadership on schemes to increase the number of BME teachers and encourage them to move up the career ladder, said he did not think schools were being "deliberately racist".

However, he added: "Institutional racism is where the structures and the systems and everything around how an institution works make it more difficult for people from certain ethnic backgrounds to succeed. …

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