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A child with their hand raised in a classroom with a teacher in the background in front of a blackboard

Our Evidence Centre for Education (DECE) has analysed the ethnic disproportion between students and teachers in English schools.

In their paper ‘The disproportionality of ethnic minority teachers in England: trends, patterns and problems’, DECE director Professor Stephen Gorard and his team examined national data on the ethnicity of students and teachers.

Putting data in a geographical context, they showed how the ethnicity of teaching staff matched up to pupils’ ethnicity across England’s regions and local authorities.

Ethnicity mismatch between pupils and teachers

Our researchers found that ethnic minority pupils in the North East of England may never be taught by someone of the same heritage.

This is despite the North East having the most proportionate teaching workforce.

Children of Black-African origin make up 1.3 per cent of the student population in the North East, while just 0.1 per cent of the region’s teaching workforce identified as Black-African, for example.

As these numbers are so low, it makes it unlikely that the small number of Black-African students in the North East will ever encounter a teacher with the same ethnic background as them.

The researchers found that the area with the least proportional teaching workforce was London, despite it having the most diverse workforce.

This is due to the capital’s exceptionally high ethnic minority pupil numbers.

Role models and aspirations

Our researchers also discovered that ethnic minority applicants to teacher training are less likely to be accepted and less likely to obtain qualified teacher status or an eventual teaching post. The researchers say this needs resolving.

The study concludes that the lack of ethnic diversity in some schools and areas, regardless of proportions, may impoverish the diversity of the whole school system.

Prof Gorard says a lack of diversity among teaching staff can be an issue when it comes to role models, aspirations and general enjoyment of school for ethnic minority students.

What next?

The study is part of a three-year project ‘Investigating the recruitment and retention of ethnic minority teachers and its relationship to school outcomes’.

It is led by DECE and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Over the course of the project, the team is investigating whether ethnic disproportionality in the teaching workforce makes a difference to pupils’ attainment and other school outcomes.

Find out more:

  • ‘The disproportionality of ethnic minority teachers in England: trends, patterns and problems’ is authored by Stephen Gorard, Wenqing Chen, Yiyi Tan, Beng Huat See, Carolina Gazmuri, Antonina Tereshchenko and Feyisa Demie. It has been published online by Routledge Open Research and can be read in full here.
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