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Wed, 15 July 2020

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BME teachers facing more covert racism, conference hears

NASUWT

3 min read Member content

Microinsults, microinvalidations and other forms of covert racism are increasing in schools, a BME teachers’ conference organised by the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, has heard


Over half (54%) of those attending the Union’s BME Teachers’ Consultation Conference today said they had experienced verbal or nonverbal actions which they believe are demeaning to their racial heritage or identity in the last 12 months.

Nearly three in five (59%) said they have encountered everyday attempts to exclude or deny the validity of their identity, thoughts, feelings or experiences.

Teachers at the conference described how they had typically been described as “oversensitive” “paranoid” or “aggressive” when challenging unacceptable language or behaviour at work.

The poll took place as more than 400 BME teachers from across the UK gathered in Birmingham today (18 January) for the NASUWT’s annual BME Teachers’ Consultation Conference to discuss the challenges they face and to participate in professional development workshops.

A real-time electronic poll of attendees at the Conference also found that:

  • Over a third (37%) think racism has become worse in their workplace in the last year;
  • Nearly half (46)% of BME teachers were not confident about reporting racial discrimination, racial bullying or racial harassment to their employer because of lack of support;
  • BME teachers believe that having a zero tolerance policy on racism in schools and colleges, together with anti-racism inspection and stronger government regulation were the most important priorities for ensuring that all schools/colleges take effective action to tackle racist attitudes and behaviours at work.

Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary (Acting) of the NASUWT, said:

“BME teachers continue to be subjected to unacceptable racist remarks, negative comments and derogatory behaviours because of their racial origin. 

“It is concerning that racism in schools and colleges is becoming more covert; taking the form of microinsults and microinvalidations, which are often dismissed or downplayed by senior managers.

“The experiences shared by BME teachers today demonstrate that discrimination and unfair treatment of BME teachers and pupils is unfortunately still rife, impacting on educational outcomes and teachers’ careers.

“All of the NASUWT’s own research shows the BME teachers face greater barriers and discrimination in gaining promotion and pay progression than the generality of teachers and that overt and covert instances of racism are a daily reality for too many BME teachers.

“The NASUWT will continue to support members in challenging these injustices, but much more action is needed by Government to affect the systemic change which is needed to ensure that no pupil or teacher is held back because of their ethnicity or faith.

“Through the NASUWT’s ongoing Act for Racial Justice campaign, we will continue to fight all forms of racial discrimination and promote the interests of all BME teachers and pupils.”

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