Sunderland has one of the lowest proportions of ethnic minority teachers in the country

In the classroom.
In the classroom.
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Research has revealed that Sunderland has one of the worst ratios in the country of ethnic minority teachers to students.

The statistics showed that the town is in the top 20 areas with the greatest diversity gap in England ­ with the proportion of BME, black and ethnic minority, pupils being more than six times the proportion of BME teachers.

The report, from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, found that across the country BME teachers are significantly under-represented across the country.

Figures obtained from the Department of Education show just 7.6% of teachers in state schools in England are people of colour compared with almost 25% of pupils.

In some local authorities the situation is so bad that there would need to be a more than tenfold increase in the number of BME teachers for staff to reflect their pupil populations.

When it comes to school leadership the gap widens even further ­ 97% of English state school headteachers are white.

On Wearside the percentage of children who are BME is 6.1%, however, just 1% of teachers are BME, putting the city in the top 20 worst areas.

Responding to the findings, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Louise Farthing, said: "Equality and diversity are actively encouraged across our whole community, including schools, and the recruitment policy of Sunderland City Council reflects that.

“Any national issue about a lack of teachers from certain ethnic backgrounds might be better addressed at a national level, with more encouragement for people from the BME community to consider a career in education.

“We would support any such national recruitment drive on a local basis if it were to be introduced, as we value the multi-cultural diversity of our city and the country.”

Talking about the national issue, Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers union NASUWT said: "It is clearly unacceptable and it is also disgraceful. Education is such a powerful determiner of life chances. All children and people working within education should be treated with dignity and with access to equality. That clearly is not happening."

The House of Commons is widely derided for being too white, but the Bureau’s analysis shows the racial diversity of teachers in England is almost identical.

The proportion of BME Members of Parliament serving English constituencies is 7.5%, just a tenth of a percentage point less than the proportion of BME teachers.

Keates said the data reinforced the organisation’s own research which showed a vast majority of BME teachers believed schools paid lip service to racial equality.

She said: "NASUWT has found evidence of everyday racism in schools and colleges, discrimination, harassment, ostracism, lack of pay progression, and BME teachers being held back from promotion.

"These issues remain deep-­rooted, endemic and institutionalised."