2016:18 Black teachers in Liverpool. Jan 2017 no change?
The issue highlighted in Liverpool today is one that is occurring in almost every major city in the UK- The lack of Black teachers. This is particularly problematic where the number of Black students is significant. Nationally the data shows there are 6.7% BME teachers. But in many inner city schools the BME student make can be more than 40%.The importance of these students to have both role models and more importantly staff who have a better understanding of their cultural and or religious needs has never been more critical.
Marie Charles, like many others have been completely frustrated by the lack acknowledgement in regards to Black teaches much less implementing the changes needed. If we want our children to succeed we must collectively demand from our schools more Black teachers.
Twelve months ago, MFIT (Many Faces In Teaching) researchers published their report into the ethnicity of Liverpool’s teaching workforce and its learning support assistants (LSA).
The self-reported ethnicity data evidenced that there are only 18 black teachers within a workforce which has 3,380 white teachers and analysis of the Learning Support Assistant population evidenced only 33 black employees against a total of 4,414 white LSAs.
Following publication of the report, the MFIT research team contacted senior leaders of the Liverpool Council Education Department to engage positively in discussing strategies which would address this lack of diversity and representativeness in the teaching population in the city. Those attempts at dialogue failed and while a year has passed, nothing has changed in the workforce profile in December 2016.
In its defence, in its minimal responses to the research data, the Liverpool Council has stated only that it is “Working hard and is not complacent and accepts that there is more to do” [Elle Spencer, Feb17th 2016; JMU Journalism] to address the city’s historic profile of lack of teaching workforce diversity.
However, these initiatives, which sadly repeat the unfulfilled promises offered in the preceding 12 years, a period throughout which the research team has attempted to engage in positive dialogue, engagement and development with the Liverpool Council. Conversely, the Council has resorted to mounting its own PR defence against the research team by publicly slating in the local press the employment data used in the MFIT research report; ironically those data were obtained from the Council’s own data collection unit, although MFIT had to make a FOI request to attain the data. Attempts by the MFIT researchers to respond to the Council comments in the local press were not published, even when ‘right to reply’ was cited by the researchers.
The research team’s conceptualization of a positive developmental programme to address the issue of ‘black invisibility’ in Liverpool is based on the notion of a connected supported pipeline: a ‘home through school to access to employment and promotion’ trajectory.
However, that prevailing invisibility of models and relevant curriculum content means that if ‘everything I, as a black child, am taught has zero relevance to my identity, what do I have to model from and aspire to’? The black child has become an object of analysis within a narrow definition of intelligence, creativity and possibility, styled as ‘a failure in performance league table terms’.
Suggested steps to addressing the issue and effecting change: MFIT is a facilitating organisation that believes in collaborative positive engagement through practical strategies focusing on (1) an entitlement curriculum based on the remediation of damaged histories and citizenship; and (2) a range of techniques from structural, systemic and personal analysis, design and development; specialist interaction through workshops and classroom modelling using micro to macro stepped initiatives.
Marie Charles Director MFIT