Is our school system racist?
A 2015 study by the Ark academy chain found there were only 39 black headteachers across more than 3,000 secondary schools in England – representing less than 1.1 per cent of the total, despite black or mixed-race people making up 4.5 per cent of the general population of England and Wales.
In the same year, an NUT teaching union survey raised concerns about pay increases given to ethnic minority teachers under performance-related pay.
It found that 28 per cent of those told of their pay decision had been denied an increase. This rose to 40 and 34 per cent among Asian and black teachers respectively.
And research by the Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE) at the University of Birmingham on school exclusions found that, compared to their white peers, the permanent exclusion rate of black Caribbean pupils has remained three to four times that of their white peers over an 18-year period.
David Gillborn, of the CRRE, believes racial bias in schools extends to teachers’ expectations and which sets pupils are put in.
For him, such racial bias is unconscious, and not enough is being done to raise awareness of it. “It would be great if teacher education took race inequality seriously. It does not,” he adds.