The NASUWT's General Secretary has told BME members that the Union is committed to continuing to fight to tackle the scourge of racism, injustice and prejudice which is blighting the lives of too many BME teachers.
Addressing the Union's BME Teachers' Consultation Conference 2018, which saw hundreds of members from across the country gather in Birmingham, she highlighted the barriers which BME teachers continue to face in accessing pay progression and promotion as well as the impact growing racist, xenophobic and faith-based intolerance has on their working lives.
"BME teachers have poor experiences across the school system" Ms Keates told the conference. "This inequality of treatment is impacting on BME teachers' wellbeing outside work. Discrimination is wearing them down and for many teachers the oppression they experience exists on multiple levels-skin colour, age, gender, disability and sexuality."
Ms Keates detailed some of the ways this discrimination manifests itself in the workplace, with BME teachers earning less on average than their white colleagues, more than twice as many BME teachers being put on capability procedures or threatened with them in the last year and 60% of BME teachers in a recent NASUWT survey saying they had been denied pay progression.
Ms Keates condemned these injustices and warned they threatened to result in a huge loss of skills and talent to the profession if BME teachers choose to leave teaching as a result.
She said: "Our recent survey shows that 66% of BME teachers, already underrepresented in the teaching workforce, have seriously considered leaing the profession in the last twelve months.
"This has to end. Nothing will change until the statutory provisions governing teachers' contractual and working conditions are strengthened and until the unfair, unjust and discriminatory practices are vigourously challenged and tackled.
"If governments and employers fail to act, the NASUWT will.
"We will not stand by and let race by taken off the agenda. We will fight prejudice, injustice and racism wherever we find it."
The event, which is the largest BME teachers’ conference in Europe, heard concerns from delegates about discrimination and the failure of schools to take racial prejudice seriously.
A real-time electronic poll of BME teachers attending the seminar found that:
- 78% do not think the work and contribution of BME teachers is recognised and valued by schools;
- 58% do not think treatment of BME teachers has improved in the last decade;
- Only 36% feel outcomes for BME pupils have improved in the last decade;
- 98% feel that racism continues to be a serious problem in the UK today;
- 53% do not see themselves still being in the teaching profession in the next five years, with 31% saying they are planning to change career and the rest saying they plan to retire or take a break from the profession.
Delegates heard from NASUWT and trade union activists who encouraged members to get active in their union and ensure the voice of BME teachers is listened to. Members also had the opportunity to take part in a range of professional development workshops on topics including tackling racial discrimination in teachers' pay, mental health, advice on moving into school leadership and promoting equality in schools.