Ethnic Diversity in the Teaching Workforce Review

Feb 8, 2024

Ethnic Diversity in the Teaching Workforce Review

On 31st January 2024, the National Foundation for Educational Research in England and Wales (NFER) published an important evidence review into the ethnic diversity of the teaching workforce. The research review was commissioned by Mission 44, a charitable foundation founded by Sir Lewis Hamilton.

The review identifies the barriers and promising approaches to support recruitment, retention and progression of people of colour within the teaching workforce.

The review’s key findings are:

  1. People of colour are less likely to receive and accept an offer for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) compared with their white peers, but the reasons behind this disparity are not clear. Negative experiences during ITT help to explain why fewer trainee teachers of colour achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). This is an important stage for intervention.
  2. Teacher retention is lower for teachers of colour than for their white counterparts. Beyond high workload, key reasons for leaving include (1) overt and covert racial discrimination; (2) disillusionment with their ability to make a difference for pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds; and (3) lack of progression opportunities. 
  3. Barriers to recruitment, retention and progression coalesce around the unequal treatment of teachers of colour in a system that was not designed to support either ethnic or intersectional diversity. An anti-racist school culture is a key enabler of progression. Therefore, action should focus on ensuring a positive working environment for teachers and leaders from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
  4. In England, there are currently no government targets, programmes or funding to improve ethnic diversity in the teaching workforce, in contrast to Scotland and Wales.
  5. While there are promising approaches for improving ethnic diversity, there is a lack of rigorous evidence on their effectiveness.
Ethnic Diversity Report into Teaching Workforce 2024 NFER

These findings present an opportunity for providers of ITT and policy makers to establish their response and take urgent, informed action to broaden the ethnic diversity in our teaching workforce.

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