Racial equality in the teacher workforce

Jack Worth, Dawson McLean and Caroline Sharp

18 May 2022

small pdf icon Summary report - Racial Equality in the Teacher Workforce

small pdf icon Full report - Racial Equality in the Teacher Workforce

This research by NFER, in partnership with Ambition Institute and Teach First, explores the representation and career progression opportunities in the teaching profession in England among people from different ethnic minority backgrounds.

It finds evidence of under-representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds that is most pronounced at senior leadership and headship levels, but largely driven by disparities in the early career stages, particularly initial teacher training (ITT). This provides important insights for action to establish a more equitable profession in future.

Key Findings

  • The most significant ethnic disparities in progression occur in ITT, where people from Asian, black, mixed and other ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to be accepted to an ITT course than their white counterparts. People from Asian, black and other ethnic backgrounds are over-represented among applicants to postgraduate ITT, but these groups are under-represented among trainees entering teaching.
  • Teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds are also less likely to stay in the progression or progress to leadership than their white counterparts.
  • Disparities in progression between ethnic groups differ between regions and training routes, and depend on the ethnic diversity of the senior leadership team (SLT). Ethnic disparities in ITT acceptance rates are significantly smaller in London than nationally, but larger for promotion to senior leadership. Disparities are smaller in schools with diverse SLTs compared to schools with all-white SLTs.

The report calls for two main actions:

  1. Support leaders and decision-makers in ITT providers, schools and trusts to equip them to make equitable workforce decisions. In particular, we encourage ITT providers to review their application and selection processes to pinpoint the extent, nature and causes of the lower acceptance rates experienced by applicants from ethnic minority backgrounds and to act to address any inequalities at this crucial first stage of entry into the profession.
  2. Monitor progress across the system towards equalising the opportunities for progression in teaching for people from all ethnic groups.