New research to provide insight on ethnic diversity among teachers and leaders in English schools

News item

Friday 22 September 2023

The teaching workforce is not reflective of diversity in the wider population and there are many benefits from having a teaching workforce which represents the population it serves.

NFER’s new study will seek evidence-based strategies on how to increase ethnic diversity within teaching and senior leadership roles in England and encourage a more inclusive education system.

The research, which will also investigate barriers to achieving a more diverse teaching workforce, is being conducted by the NFER and funded by Mission 44, a charitable foundation launched by Sir Lewis Hamilton to build a fairer, more inclusive future. The project will involve an evidence review of existing research, aiming to identify challenges and potential solutions within training, recruitment, retention and progression for people of colour in the teaching workforce and at leadership levels.

Due to be published in early 2024, the research will support the work of Mission 44 's education pillar, which aims to build a more inclusive education system led by diverse teaching staff.

NFER Research Director, Caroline Sharp said:

“We are delighted that this work will support Mission 44 in their aim of ensuring there is a teaching workforce that better reflects wider society. A diverse workforce is likely to enable all pupils to reach their potential as well as promoting greater cultural understanding and inclusion for people from all backgrounds.”

Head of Research and Strategy at Mission 44, Stephanie Neave, said:

“To build a more inclusive education system, we need to ensure the teaching workforce is reflective of the population it serves. This research is foundational toward our work in this area, ensuring we have a strong understanding of the factors that underpin the lack of ethnic diversity in teaching, why this is important to address, and the key opportunities to do so. We look forward to using this evidence base to galvanise initiatives that better support the recruitment, retention, and progression of ethnic minority teachers.”

The research aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is the current ethnic composition of the teaching workforce in England? Are there certain subjects or levels where teachers of colour are particularly underrepresented?
  • What does existing research say about the barriers and enablers to improving the ethnic diversity of the teaching workforce, both generally and at senior level?
  • What practical support is effective in helping more teachers of colour progress into senior roles?
  • Deepen understanding of why ethnic diversity in the teaching workforce and school senior leadership matters?

To address these questions, NFER will carry out an evidence review of currently available research.

Based on the findings, NFER will offer recommendations to support Missions 44’s aim of increasing teaching diversity in England. These will include appropriate interventions and the types of support Mission 44 should seek to offer in its fellowship programme to help teachers of colour progress into senior roles.