BME School Leader - Let's Mix It Up A Little
When I asked Bristol City Council and the CEO of Oasis Multi Academy Trust in 2017, which collectively are responsible for over 150 educational establishments, what their strategy was for employing a more ethnically diverse leadership team, they confessed to not having one. Two years later in 2019 Oasis still have no BME headteachers in any of their 52 schools and Bristol reduced theirs from six in 2017 to just one in 2019.
My personal preference for leadership teams is that they are the best for the community; that at least one person on the team understands the dynamics and needs of the community that they serve. I am not an advocate of affirmative action or workplace quotas to promote diversity within the workforce. I am an advocate of strategic planning to ensure that there is equity within your workforce. The reason I quote both Oasis and Bristol City Council is because after studying with Oasis during a 2 year training programme and working with Bristol City Council their workforce does not reflect the ethnicity of their pupil intake or their communities their institutions are in. In two of Oasis's schools I visited 100% of the pupils were BME, yet none of the teaching or leading staff were BME. Similarly in Bristol where the BME pupil population in both primary and secondary schools is well above the national BME pupil average of 32% in primary schools and 29% in secondary schools and is more likely 50% in primary and 40% in secondary schools and only has one BME headteacher in one of its primary schools. Bristol has no clear strategy to establish a coherent plan to recruit and retain BME leaders, hence this statistic is likely to remain at one. In my experience when the strategy of affirmative has been implemented it has not succeeded in ending discrimination and has not consistently resulted in ensuring that the best person has been hired for the role. I have been provided with convincing arguments to advocate appropriate training for those responsible for recruiting within their establishment to help people to be aware of the challenges BME staff may face and how to avoid discriminatory recruitment practices, regardless of whether these are conscisously or unconsciously practised. If practised incorrectly it can result in reverse racism, so health warnings are necessary when implementing intervention into preventing racism. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/west-midland-police-accused-discriminating-15417965
Solution focussed possible initiatives
1. Training for leaders annually on the impact of inequalities in the country and sharing of case studies alongside a proven toolkit for leaders and governors
2. Training on unconscious bias or similar for all those responsible for leading and governing schools
3. Training for all staff on unconscious bias language and behaviours annually
4. Application forms to be aligned so that people are not disadvantaged
5. Academies sponsoring BME pupils throughout their degree with the expectation that they give 3 years of their career to teaching in their schools
6. Aspiring leaders programme developed for BME
7. Work shadowing opportunities in executive positions for aspirant and experienced leaders that have a suitable skillset
8. Change or explain national policy to monitor changes in education 0-25 and the workplace introduced - https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/theresa-may/news/89659/theresa-may-demands-explain-or
9. BME company pay gap and position gap published by those with more than 15 employees annually
10. BME family communities to support each other through social media and mentoring groups to further build positive affirmations and relationships – talk about the positives and the possible pathways to success as opposed to the barriers.
Below are the breakdowns of the ethnicity of the workforce for prison, policing, nursing and teaching, which clearly demonstrates that there is a disparity between the number of BME employees and non BME employess in professional roles. I will explore this theme in detail at a later date, but for now, the reader can analyse the data and make their own conclusions.
argument against affirmative action - https://stanfordmag.org/contents/the-case-against-affirmative-actionuitment .
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/27/27.pdf Police Workforce Race and Ethnicity Facts
https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/workforce-and-business/workforce-diversity/prison-officer-workforce/latest Prison Workforce Race and Ethnicity Facts
https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/workforce-and-business/workforce-diversity/school-teacher-workforce/latest Teacher Workforce Race and Ethnicity Facts
https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/workforce-and-business/workforce-diversity/nhs-workforce/latest Nursing Workforce Race and Ethnicity Facts
I explore how we can learn from the dynamics of doubles tennis and why BME teachers and leaders are pitted against - solutions are included