More than half (53%) of BME teachers have reported being subject to verbal abuse at school in the last twelve months, Chris Keates, the General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, told a conference of BME teachers today.

At the NASUWT BME Teachers’ Consultation Conference in Birmingham, the largest gathering of BME teachers in Europe, Ms Keates told the delegation:

“BME teachers continue to be subjected to racist remarks, negative comments, and threats of disciplinary action because of their racial origin.

“Teachers are continuing to face misery, humiliation, ill-health, loss of confidence and blighted careers as a result of this abuse.”

The General Secretary also recounted that 42% of BME teachers say they are not supported by senior management to deal with pupil indiscipline.

“This unacceptable failure to act is indefensible and reprehensible.

“It is a failure of the employer’s legal duty of care to employees. Too often, schools are condoning behaviour that is leaving BME staff, and indeed pupils, isolated and vulnerable, setting an appalling example to our children and young people.”

Ms Keates also raised the top concerns of the teaching profession, which workload remains the number one issue. She said many BME teachers were “buckling under the weight of more and more administrative tasks.

“Teachers are being crushed by punitive assessment and working policies, designed to hold them to account rather than support pupil progress.

“They are trapped in the seemingly permanent revolution of curriculum change, invariably ill-thought through, under-resourced, and badly executed.”

Ms Keates highlighted the NASUWT’s “outstanding” success in fighting for the rights of BME teachers, which has secured “positive change”.

“The NASUWT has stood alone for what is right, often against the prevailing views of the day, on pay, workload, the teachers’ contract, pupil indiscipline and equality.”


Commenting on Ofsted’s Annual Report, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“It is clear from the report that the teaching profession is continuing to achieve high standards for children and young people. This is despite the continuing pressures teachers are facing in terms of depressed pay, excessive workload and the knock-on impact of the major recruitment and retention crisis.

“This success has been achieved despite the government’s education policies, not because of them and we see in Ofsted’s report some of the consequences of the government’s failure to exercise strategic leadership over the education system.

“The NASUWT supports the call by Ofsted for it to be given the powers to inspect multi academy trusts and to take action when concerns are raised about unregistered schools. MATs are increasingly powerful and influential and they should be held accountable for their performance in the same way that schools are. Equally, it is vitally important that where there are concerns about unregistered schools that the inspectorate has sufficient powers to intervene to ensure pupils are safe and are receiving education which is appropriate and of sufficient quality.

“The NASUWT agrees with Ofsted’s view that it is not right that schools which are graded as outstanding should be exempt from inspection. Proportionate, focused inspections which genuinely support schools to reflect on their progress and continue to improve should be part of the system of accountability for all schools.

“Ofsted is correct to raise the impact which declining levels of local authority funding for wider children’s services are having on schools. Access to specialist CAMHS support is just one example where delays and in some cases, the impossibility, of obtaining expert external support for pupils with mental health issues is placing schools under acceptable pressure.

“Similarly, local authority provision for children and young people with special needs is highlighted by the inspectorate as a concern. There is the need for greater investment in support for children with high needs, but also greater consistency in how schools and local authorities cooperate to meet the needs of these children. At present there is unacceptable variability in practice between different authorities which means that some children are not getting the support they need.

“It is shocking that thousands of young people are disappearing from school rolls each year and the NASUWT agrees with Ofsted that this is a situation which cannot be allowed to continue. The NASUWT has called on the Department for Education to give local authorities the capacity and resources to allow them to challenge off-rolling and ensure all children receive their entitlement to education.”