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The NASUWT is determined to change the “hostile environment” that continues to undermine the career prospects and wellbeing of Black teachers in our schools and colleges, the Union’s General Secretary has told members.

Addressing the Union’s Black Teachers’ Consultation Conference, Dr Patrick Roach hit out at the “tick-box” approach to racial equality prevalent in too many schools and colleges which allows overt racism and microaggressions to flourish unchecked.

He condemned the “unacceptable” failure of employers and governments to take effective action to challenge the racism which he said is too often leaving Black teachers feeling “excluded, silenced and isolated."

He told the conference that “the best education systems worldwide are those that prioritise equity and inclusion, but too often the systems that Black teachers and students are asked to work in, to learn in and to navigate are anything but inclusive and equitable.”

He cited the underrepresentation of Black teachers across the profession, especially at the most senior levels, Black teachers being overlooked repeatedly for promotion, and more being likely to face disciplinary action, capability procedures or dismissal.

Turning to the experiences of pupils, he highlighted the disproportionate rates of exclusion and physical searches of Black students and higher rates of unmet special educational needs.

He criticised a workplace culture where Black teachers face questions about where they come from, racialised stereotyping and where they experience ostracism if they do not adapt how they dress, speak and act to fit in.

“That is the evidence of a hostile environment within our education system and one that we must change” Dr Roach told members. 

He set out the actions the NASUWT is undertaking to demand racial justice for Black teachers in our schools and colleges through the Union’s Anti-Racism Action Plan.

He said: “It starts by ensuring racial justice is central to the union’s bargaining agenda and priorities when we meet with governments and employers. It starts by stepping up our demands for race pay gap audits in our schools and colleges. It starts by demanding an end to a system where Black teachers are paid less than their White colleagues when you take into account their age, their experience and their levels of responsibility.

“It starts by demanding that the union speaks up for Black teachers, that our union looks like our Black members at every level, in our local associations, in our regions, in our devolved nations and on our National Executive and at our Annual Conference.

“That is why our Anti-Racism Action Plan is so important for all of our members to get behind. Demanding visibility and transparency, that as a union we can demonstrate we live by our values with Black members represented at all levels in our democratic structures.”  

As well as hearing from the General Secretary, members attending the online conference also had the opportunity to take part in a range of sessions exploring issues including ways to tackle Islamophobia in schools, wellness for Black teachers, and the journey into school leadership for Black teachers.

Members were also able to hear from some of the leading figures in the fight for greater equality for Black workers, including representatives from the TUC, Educate Against Islamophobia, Brap (Birmingham Race Action Partnership) and MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development).

Find out more about all our work for Black teachers 


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