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to wonder about ethnic diversity in teachers?

(105 Posts)
manicinsomniac Thu 14-Feb-13 18:45:04

I teach in a school where 100% of the staff are caucasian (but then so are approx 90% of the children, it's a very very white area).

But I went on a course today in London and there were 100 teachers there, all of whom were white. At least 2/3rds were from schools in the London area so I would have expected diversity.

As someone with mixed race children I do sometimes worry about this. Well not worry exactly, it probably doesn't matter in the slightest. But I think about it. I used to believe that the only correct way forward was total colour blin-ness but now I'm not so sure. Should we actually be encouraging more diversity in careers such as teaching rather than just taking whatever happens as being ok?

Or have I got a skewed view on things and there are actually loads of non white teachers?

And AIBU to think it might even matter?

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 17:46:02

but I think if you are working class and male, (but not Asian) then you are you are screwed either way

i agree sad

i hope there are some answers, somewhere

FellatioNels0n Fri 15-Feb-13 17:38:23

Sorry, that was garbled. I don't know what happened. confused

I meant to say: I know that these things can change on a hairpin (meaning statistics are sensitive to small fluctuations)

FellatioNels0n Fri 15-Feb-13 17:36:47

Actually I can't be bothered to trawl the internet for a reliable ink but I remember reading a few years back that white working class boys do worst, across the board, in terms of academic achievement. There things can change on a hairpin I am sure, but I think if you are working class and male, (but not Asian) then you are you are screwed either way.

I wonder why?

Moominsarehippos Fri 15-Feb-13 17:30:37

"Adolph Cameron said that in Jamaica, where homophobia was a big issue, school success was often seen as feminine or "gay"."

Bloody hell. God help a gay teacher...

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 17:22:44


BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 17:17:31

Boys in general, and Black boys in particular, are being excluded from school in ever increasing and disproportionate numbers, drawing attention to the need for a closer examination of the interrelationship between ‘race’ and gender. Clearly, young Black masculinities are not expressed in isolation, but are, amongst other influences, informed and shaped by school processes. Within schools, the ways in which masculinities are portrayed plays a major part in the relationships that exist between Black males and their peers and teachers. Thus, the experiences of Black pupils in school are mediated through their gendered identities. This paper discusses such experiences through the findings of a recently completed study of school exclusions and educational performance, in which young excludees have been interviewed and ethnographic school research conducted. The study explores the nature of ‘excluded’ identities by looking at how processes of exclusion act to position young Black males within discourses of conflict, alienation and cultural misunderstanding. The findings suggest that: (i) young Black men are positioned ambivalently by White teachers and male peers resulting in less positive perceptions of their masculinities; (ii) expressions of Black masculinity should not be interpreted as misdirected responses to an inability to attain specific White masculinities; (iii) the views of the young male excludees challenge differential treatment and damaging stereotypes and warn against ‘over masculinising’ the identities of young Black boys; and (iv) restricting discussion of the problematic nature of relationships between Black males and White teachers and male peers, with respect to expressions of masculinity, can act to pathologise Black identities and suggest that Black youth are themselves responsible for their own positioning.


BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 17:14:17

i havent read this yet, but looks interesting

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 17:12:18

Im just google searching

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 17:00:14

Yes Asians perform well. Black Africans also I believe

I think summing it up as 'attitude' is a bit simplistic. There is a lot of history, that forms peoples attitudes. Sure, its not a race/genetic link thing...I wasn't suggesting that. There are a lot of socio-economic factors at work. But a lot of them are influenced by your ethnic background

Moominsarehippos Fri 15-Feb-13 16:47:35

I'm not convinced. Maybe there is more than school/teaching in play. Family set-up for example. Economics. Religion...

My friend, although born here, has both parents from the w'indies. The kids were brought up to respect teachers and education (whacked if they didn't), stand up for themselves and be proud of who they were and where they lived. Same for her kids, although she did tell one to mention her colour in a job application (irrelevant to the job but she thought there may have been some sort of ethnic monitoring in play).

White w/c males seem to come bottom of the pile. Don't asian boys come top? Not colour or race but attitude, and where does this come from?

happy2bhomely Fri 15-Feb-13 16:45:40

We live in North East London. Our primary has a very diverse mix of pupils and staff. We are White British.

The executive head is a black British/African woman. The head is a Greek woman. The head of key stage one is a South African man. The head of key stage 2 is a White British man. It's a nice mix of people!

My son is at secondary and there is less diversity amongst the teachers, but his head of yr is a White British woman. His form tutor is a 28 yr old black British man. His head teacher is a middle aged White British man.

They are all good teachers, and that is all that matters to me. The staff reflect the local population, which makes sense to me.

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 16:44:11

Interesting go on.....I think the subliminal messages you send the kids is important. Science teachers were all men at one time....there have been lots of campaigns/recruitment drives to redress this I believe?

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 16:40:22

Sorry posted too soon....

But it makes sense that they would....everyone knows the importance of role models and seeing yourself reflected back, for children's esteem/aspirations/learning....And if they do I think its dart for everyone to protest that it shouldn't be like that/ethnicity shouldn't be an issue....because you are talking about kids who are by definition immature. And (and and!) a lot also have difficulties at home to. contend with. I wouldn't want to be arguing about the rights and wrongs of why they learn better when taught by a person of same gender/ethnicity, if they do....surely we just need to provide what they need to get an education

Moominsarehippos Fri 15-Feb-13 16:38:19

Maybe 'challenging' children's attitudes need to be 'challenged'. What happens when they get into the world or employment? Sorry boss, you're a white woman so fuck off I'm not listening to you?'. Kids need to learn respect, regardless of sex, colour or religion. I'm not keen on religious schools either (coming from somewhere where segregated schools were/are the norm).

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 16:33:28

I agree fellatio.....that is the question I am interested in....the balance of excellence vs ethnicity, if you are trying to reach a specific group

Obviously if there was a crap black teacher vs an excellent white teacher, its a no brainer. But what if the margin is small.

And I really actually don't know if the kids even do respond better on the whole

GoOnDoOne Fri 15-Feb-13 16:29:27

This has got me thinking.

I teach in a secondary school in East London. In my current school, there is a good diversity amongst staff. The SLT (and they're very visible around the school) is about 50/50 white/non-white. There are divides between departments though. For example, Maths and ICT are staffed almost entirely by non-white teachers. The TAs and Behaviour Management team also. However, the English Department, Art and Science are all white.

I wonder what messages this sends to our pupils, if any? I've heard no racist comments from the students or been aware of any racist incidents amongst them. Several very homophobic and disabilist ones though. The latter have gone largely unchallenged, unfortunately. Except by me that is. sad

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 16:28:51

Your son wouldn't need a teacher he didn't identify with moomin. I am not suggesting that 'a black man' is better at teaching all children who arent white.

Black carribean males consistently perform worse as a demographic. It has been suggested that they would perform better if there were more male teachers of black carribean descent teaching them (i am not talking about black Africans or MR children) In the school I volunteered in, it was undeniable that the more challenging children of black carribean descent, responded better to those teachers/TAs.

FellatioNels0n Fri 15-Feb-13 16:17:17

I think it's more important to recruit good teachers than to recruit black teachers. I would imagine most black teachers are excellent, and I would like to hope that they are hired because they are excellent and not because they are black. Or to be hired because they are excellent, inspirational, and black, rather than just black.

I would also like to hope that 'connecting' with a person, be they a pupil, colleague, a teacher, or a friend, is about what you have to bring to that relationship as a human being, not as a person of a particular colour. If white people are expected to see past colour and stereotype then I would like to hope that black people can see past it too.

Moominsarehippos Fri 15-Feb-13 16:17:08

Then you'd need to word the ads in a way that made it clear that you wanted applicants with a specific background.

It would not exactly be 'fair' if you decide that an afro caribbean male is the best person to teach kids who have family from any 'non white' country of origin. My son isn't white. He isn't black either. His dads origin is never properly categorised on a monitoring form. He was born here, is educated here and lives here. Why would he 'need' a teacher from the other side of the world who would have little in common with him? DS finds his teachers inspiring for different reasons - one ran a marathon, one is in a band, one loves sports cars, one loves to travel...

I don't see why you would expect the school to provide a teacher with your background to make your kids... what? Feel more at home? Will this teach them respect, tolerance, inclusivity? No, we need good teachers - inspirational ones. Maybe better pay if they go into areas with bad results/poor housing etc.

BigAudioDynamite Fri 15-Feb-13 16:05:18

Do you not think there is a distinction between positive discrmination at large, and recruiting teachers of a given ethnic background because they are most effective at connecting with a demographic of children that are under acheiving?

(if this is the case? As I have said, in my limited experience it would seem so....really really interested to hear different experiences or studies/research if anyone can link?)

FellatioNels0n Fri 15-Feb-13 15:58:23

I disagree with Positive Discrimination (with capitals). I think as a policy, it's patronising and possibly counter-productive.

But I think if people are doing it from the heart, and the gut, rather than to tick boxes, it can be a marvellous thing that enriches all involved.

complexnumber Fri 15-Feb-13 14:42:23

He did have to field some racist comments but was so far ahead of the thickies he was able to put them in place within 5 seconds.
Then that is a positive influence, is it not?

That's what I thought.

He was a fantastic teacher (in so many ways), I wish I was still with him.

Moominsarehippos Fri 15-Feb-13 14:14:56

You get into a right minefield if you hire on positive descrimination.

I know someone who ran a business in the US which had this policy. It was a nightmare in the case of disciplinary hearings, as the race card would be pulled out. It really, really shouldn't be an issue. If our school yoiked in some mixed race teacher to 'meet my son's ethnic needs' both me and DH would be very concerned. Our son is as English as pie 'n mash and we don't want him thinking that he can only 'connect' with someone with a similar background (which would need to be pretty specific anyway). Its our job as parents to lead by example, show role models (whatever the sex/age/religion/race) and teach equality. The school is paid to teach him the 3Rs.

FellatioNels0n Fri 15-Feb-13 14:13:38

He did have to field some racist comments but was so far ahead of the thickies he was able to put them in place within 5 seconds.

Then that is a positive influence, is it not? grin

coraltoes Fri 15-Feb-13 13:55:08

oh and to start hiring based on colour?! please no way. women in the workplace fought hard to banish this bollocks about positive discrimination, it is about meritocratic hiring, and the same should be the case in every career surely. You want the best person for the job, not the most appropriately coloures of gendered one.

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