BME teachers deliver damning indictment of coalition government record on equality

There has been a backwards step in racial equality as a result of the impact of four years of Coalition Government policies, the General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ Union in the UK, has warned.

NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates told BME members that pre-election promises by Coalition Government Ministers to tackle racist extremism by prohibiting racists from working as teachers or serving as governors had been broken.

Speaking to the NASUWT BME Teachers’ Consultation Conference in Birmingham, the largest of its kind in Europe, Ms Keates also said the conditions for racial harassment and bullying had been allowed to grow.

A real-time electronic poll at the Conference heard that discriminative practices are being used to deny them pay and career progression.

It also revealed there is widespread confusion over the implications for schools and colleges about the Coalition Government’s agenda to ‘promote British values’ and fears that this will be used to further discriminate against and exclude BME staff and pupils.

The key poll findings were:

  • 82% said they had been discriminated, harassed or intimidated at work because of their colour or ethnic background;
  • In the last 12 months almost half (47%) said they had experienced discrimination in relation to their pay and career progression;
  • Some 40% of teachers said they had been discriminated, harassed or intimidated because of their religion or belief;
  • 85% agreed that schools generally pay lip service to equality for BME staff and pupils;
  • 61% did not agree that schools were seriously committed to tackling discrimination and harassment against Muslim pupils and staff;
  • The vast majority (94%) were concerned that the Government’s Prevent Strategy to tackle extremism might be used to discriminate against of exclude BME staff or pupils;
  • 67% of teachers agreed that racist extremist views and activities were a problem in schools and colleges.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The Coalition Government’s education reforms have been and are a backward step in race equality in schools, not only for black and minority ethnic children and young people but also for black and minority ethnic teachers.

“The Coalition Government has removed the entitlement of children to be taught by a qualified teacher, abandoned the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant and removed the requirement for Ofsted to inspect how schools are complying with their statutory community cohesion duty.

“On top of this Ministers have abandoned the duty on schools to require them to report incidents of racial harassment and bullying.

“What is clear is that this Coalition Government is serious about attacking the hopes and dreams of black and minority ethnic students and teachers.

“The results of today’s poll will be taken forward by the NASUWT and the Union will continue to campaign for education policies which address these issues. 

“The issues raised will be a key priority for us with all political parties in the run up to the General Election.”