Hidden Figures: Why we need to attract, recruit, retain and promote more BAME teachers and leaders. #BAMEedconf17

Yesterday was a landmark day: June 3rd 2017 marks the inaugural launch event of #BAMEed in Birmingham. The Core Group have been working tirelessly since January when they launched to rally the troops, connect the community and bring the teaching profession, the unions and the academics together to reflect on the state of our school system.

bameed logo

My key learning is captured below, by each group who are affected, with suggested challenges to the system and solutions for how we can remove some of the barriers:

#BAMEed Teachers:

We do not have enough BAME teachers joining the profession – we discussed this at length and the systemic, structural and societal barriers we need to remove. We need to review our careers advice for our young people and work with parents/ carers from diverse communities to raise the profile of teaching as a profession. We also need to look at who we are sending into universities to promote our profession and who is selecting/ training our next generation – in the schools/ MATs I have worked in the ITT team is always a team of white, middle class women.

Other issues we explored were the barriers for overseas trained teachers who are BAME – as a system we pout additional hurdles in the way of BAME qualified teachers working here, compared to our white  commonwealth colleagues. There are also biases experienced by BAME colleagues with foreign sounding names and accents which we need to challenge.

#BAMEed Middle Leaders:

We have a ‘glass ceiling’ or as some would say a ‘concrete ceiling’ or ‘clingfilm ceiling’  for our pastoral, phase and curriculum leaders who get stuck in the middle. They are overlooked for promotions to SLT because their face does not fit or their skills/ experiences are not recognised/ valued. We need to work on our talent spotting and capacity building to help BAME middle leaders to transition to senior leaders.

#BAMEed Senior Leaders:

This is where we see the leak in the BAME leadership pipeline and a significant dip in under-representation. We need to be mindful that we do not stereotype our BAME colleagues as the behaviour leads, especially our male colleagues as this diminishes their potential to fulfill other roles. We need a system wide strategy for developing capacity, creating opportunities and supporting this transition. Associate/ extended SLT roles, secondments, sabbaticals and coaching might be the solution to this target group?

#BAMEed Headteachers:

Only 1% of our HTs are BAME. We are not going to significantly impact this number until we increase the number of BAME teachers entering the profession and release some of our talent from the Middle Leadership to progress to Senior Leadership. A lot of BAME aspiring Headteachers find themselves in interim roles or applying for roles which become  a ‘glass cliff’, i.e. they take a promotion in a school that is unstable and they lack the necessary support so their careers become precarious. Alternatively, BAME leaders find themselves in faith schools as their route to Headship.

#BAMEed Governors:

Governing bodies who have a BAME representation, tend to have a community voice rather than an education  voice. We have recommended to the 200 educators who came to the event that they should all develop their leadership experience and strengthen their profile by being a governor. I have done a shout out on LinkedIn to source LGBs with gaps as we have lots of BAME educators who would like this opportunity to both shape the vision of a school but equally develop their own skill set.

#BAMEed Researchers:

Listening to the BAME HEI colleagues share their research was enlightening. Damien Page (Leeds Beckett), Christine Callender (IOE/ UCL), Paul Miller (Huddersfield) and Darren Chetty (UCL/ IOE) brought the data to live with their findings. From Christine’s findings regarding the state of ITT to Paul’s analysis of the factors enabling BAME progression it would be great to see these reports shared with unions, SLTs, governors and trustees.


We can’t keep saying we have a recruitment crisis  – we have a talent-spotting and retention crisis! Let’s invest in those who want to be teachers and leaders, supporting our BAME colleagues on their journeys.

The biggest questions of the day were:

  • What’s next?
  • How can we get the system to listen? 

I am excited to see the #BAMEed network grow and gain momentum – look at where #womened is 2 years on.

I will continue to advocate and champion diversity, equality and inclusion in our schools – we need to make a noise as a collective voice, we need to work cohesively, we need a coherent system-wide strategy.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Changing the face of education – we need more BAME teachers to join the profession, more BAME leaders to shape the vision and more BAME governors to challenge the system.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am reading all the #BAMEedconf17 pledges from those who were there physically and supporting virtually. Together we are stronger and we all need to contribute, it is our collective responsibility to do what is right for our children.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Amjad, Allana, Abdul and Penny who organised a slick event connecting the teaching profession  with the HEI academies researching Race and Equality in our schools.


3 thoughts on “Hidden Figures: Why we need to attract, recruit, retain and promote more BAME teachers and leaders. #BAMEedconf17

  1. I am so pleased to read this. I am a qualified teacher who was a middle leader before leaving mainstream to teach privately in my tuition centre 7 years ago. Due to the love and passion I have for the teaching profession, I joined the UEL and helped with training secondary science teachers for 5 years 2007 – 2012. I would love to know how I can get more involved.


  2. I thoroughly enjoyed, if this is the right word? to read this. I’m also very shocked to realise that there are only 1% BAME headteachers. You said in your article the following :a lot of BAME aspiring Headteachers find themselves in interim roles or applying for roles which become a ‘glass cliff’, i.e. they take a promotion in a school that is unstable and they lack the necessary support so their careers become precarious.
    I totally agree with this statement. How many more years do we have to put up with this institutional racism. I have been teaching for over 20 years and find myself more and more disillusioned. 😥


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