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Ofsted Chief: Diverse Representation of Staff is Important

Category: Pro-Opinion, diversity, student, Chief

Ofsted Chief: Diverse Representation of Staff is Important

Schools should be encouraged to discriminate against white teachers to ensure an "ethnic mix" of staff, the head of Ofsted has suggested.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the teaching body recruited by any school needed to provide a “fair representation” of pupils.

Where a school has a particularly high proportion of pupils from different ethnic minorities, “it is important to have a staff which reflects that”, he said.

Sir Michael’s comments came in a radio phone-in on LBC during which he was challenged by a mother from Gravesend in Kent who said her mixed race children were taught in a grammar school by “predominantly white” teachers.

“The teaching staff are predominantly white and the students are predominantly black,” said the caller, identifying herself only as Carol.

"That’s not equal representation of staff to students and that’s a problem that my children learn from predominantly white British liberals and not from other races and other cultures.”

Sir Michael said: “I've always worked in inner city environments with youngsters of different ethnic backgrounds and I always felt it was important to try and get a staff mix in that sort of environment.

“If I had two people applying for a job of equal merit and I felt that we needed to increase the number of teachers from ethnic minorities from that background ... then I would apply positive discrimination, as long as the two people were of equal merit.

“I think there needs to be a fair representation. If the ethnic mix is very diverse it is important to have a staff which reflects that.”

Currently 12 per cent of teachers are from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to the Department for Education's most recent figures. Last year 28.5 per cent of state primary school pupils were classified as being of "ethnic minority origin", while in secondary schools the proportion was 24.2 per cent.

Sir Michael also insisted that all schools should be promoting tolerance and teaching pupils about “the sort of society that the children are going to go into”.

He was criticised after his inspectors effectively downgraded Middle Rasen school in Lincolnshire, a top rural primary, for being too English.

However he said: “Inspectors said that this school should do what I’ve just said that all schools should do – explain to children the sort of country we are now living in.

“It was one of the issues of many that denied them the top grade.”

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