South Tyneside has the lowest proportion of ethnic minority teachers in the country

In the classroom.
In the classroom.

Research has revealed that South Tyneside has the worst ratio in the country of ethnic minority teachers to students.

The statistics showed that the borough has the greatest diversity gap in England ­ with the proportion of BME, black and ethnic minority, pupils being 14 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 and in South Tyneside 6.8% of pupils are BME compared to just 0.5% of teachers.

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.

Responding to the findings, Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We recognise that South Tyneside is a diverse place and as an organisation, South Tyneside Council is committed to promoting equality and diversity in the workforce.

“Individual schools are responsible for the recruitment and selection of teaching staff.

“Teachers are recruited on the basis of merit - skills, experience and the ability to perform the job - regardless of ethnicity or other background factors.

“The quality of teaching in our schools is reflected in the fact that in 2016 the number of pupils at Key Stage 2 achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths was higher than the national average.

“Provisional data suggests that the attainment of Key Stage 4 pupils is also above the national average.

“It is worth noting that in South Tyneside, at both Key Stages 2 and 4, BME pupils outperformed pupils from a white British background.”

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."