New research to take in-depth look at how racial equality in teacher workforce can be improved

Thursday 4 November 2021

A new research study on racial equality in the teacher workforce in England will explore the under-representation and career progression opportunities in the teaching profession among people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

The study, due to be published in spring 2022, is being conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in partnership with Ambition Institute and Teach First.

Existing research suggests people from a BAME background are less likely to be accepted on teacher training courses, retained in the profession and progress to more senior levels, including headship and executive leadership positions. 

The study will provide a detailed overview of racial equality throughout the teacher workforce. It aims to better understand the varied experiences of different ethnic groups and whether there are differences at regional levels. Its key objective is to highlight the particular stages of the teacher career path where action by the education sector to improve racial equality is likely to be most effective.

The report will provide new quantitative analysis of ethnic representativeness at all levels of the teaching workforce. Further detailed analysis will look at recruitment, retention and progression throughout the teaching journey, from applications to initial teacher training to moving into senior positions, including becoming headteachers.

Speaking on behalf of the research group, Jack Worth, school workforce lead at NFER, said:

“It’s crucial we have an ethnically diverse teacher workforce that reflects wider society and ensures there are equal opportunities for all to enter the teaching profession and progress within it.

“Current evidence on racial equality in England’s teaching workforce is fragmented and incomplete. Our analysis will develop a clearer understanding of the extent to which the opportunity to enter, stay in and progress in teaching is unequal between ethnic groups and understand some of the drivers behind this.

“Our aim is for this study to inform thinking in the education sector about what next steps can be taken to solve this persistent challenge.”

NFER, Ambition Institute and Teach First will be supported in this work by an advisory group, including the Chartered College of Teaching, Confederation of School Trusts and a panel of practicing teachers and school leaders:

  • Nav Sanghara (Woodland Academy Trust)
  • Sufian Sadiq (Chiltern Learning Trust)
  • Claudenia Williams (Teach First Ambassador)
  • Nabila Jiwa (Richmond Park Academy)




About NFER

Established 75 years ago, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is the leading independent provider of education research. Our unique position and approach delivers evidence-based insights designed to enable education policy makers and practitioners to take action to improve outcomes for children and young people. Our key topic areas are: accountability, assessment, classroom practice, education to employment, social mobility, school funding, school workforce and systems and structures. As a not-for profit organisation, we re-invest any surplus funds into self-funded research and development to further contribute to the science and knowledge of education research. @TheNFER


About Ambition Institute

At Ambition Institute we help schools tackling educational disadvantage to keep getting better, and help their teachers and school leaders to become more expert over time. That’s how we’ll make sure every child gets a great education and the best possible start in life.

  • We train teachers and leaders at all levels to get better at the things that make the biggest difference: what you teach, how you teach it, and how you create the conditions for schools to thrive.
  • We share what works. Everyone can benefit from evidence of how great teaching and leadership can improve schools and change lives, so we connect people to the latest research and best practice.
  • We champion every teacher and school leader’s potential to develop, as the driving force for sustainable school improvement.

This year we’re working with over 25,000 teachers and school leaders across England, from early career teachers through to CEOs leading multiple schools.


About Teach First

Teach First is an education charity who are fighting to make our education system work for every child. They back the schools facing the toughest challenges. They find and train teachers, develop their leadership teams and plug them into networks of diverse expertise and opportunities to create real change.

The charity has now recruited over 18,000 teachers and leaders, has over 95 head teachers in their Training Programme alumni and has supported over a million pupils.

Those on the Training Programme commit to a minimum of two years at their partner school, where they are trainee teachers - gaining a fully-funded Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGDE) and earning a salary whilst they train. More than half then stay on for a third year, where they have the option to top up their qualification to a master’s. Over 60% of all the teachers who’ve completed training since 2003 are currently teaching.

As well as recruiting new teachers into the profession, the charity provides a range of support for schools, including programmes to help develop teachers at every stage of their career.

Teach First currently operates in all regions across England: London, West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire the Humber, North West, North East, South East, South Coast, South West and the East of England.