Is there discrimination against Black and Minority Ethnic teachers in performance-related pay?
In September 2000, the government launched a performance-based pay rise package for teachers. Experienced teachers could apply for a £2,000 pay rise and, if successful, move to a higher pay scale. Teachers had to complete a form indicating how they met eight professional standards. Judgements were then made by the headteacher as to whether a teacher met all the eight standards. These were verified by an external threshold assessor before the award was granted.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has recently released its ethnic monitoring figures for the second round of the process, during the academic year 2001/2002. The Times Educational Supplement reported the figures on 31 October 2003 based on the 20,715 full-time teachers who had applied to cross the threshold. Closer examination by IRR News has revealed that this report gave only a partial picture because it did not take into account teachers on part-time and other contracts.
A total of 31,295 teachers applied for the pay rise in the 2001 round, of which 1,306 were from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. The average success rate for all applicants was 92 per cent. The success rates for different ethnic groups break down as follows:
- White 92%
- Bangladeshi 79%
- Indian 90%
- Pakistani 82%
- Black African 77%
- Black Caribbean 87%
- Black Other 93%
- Chinese 80%
The rate of failure among Bangladeshi, Black African and Chinese teachers was more than twice the average.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) had pressed the DfES to release the figures because of its concerns about possible discrimination. Unions had reported that non-whites were disproportionately represented in their case workload of threshold appeals.
John Bangs, NUT Head of Education, said: ‘These figures are a very deep cause for concern. Our black members feel that they have been discriminated against. There is a duty to investigate racism whether direct or indirect.’
Researchers at Paisley University and Surrey Roehampton University have identified what they claim are major deficiencies in the management of threshold assessment. Evidence collected by Ian Menter, Ian Hextall and Pat Mahony indicated that equal opportunities issues had been marginalised when training the independent assessors.
Pat Mahony of Surrey Roehampton University said: ‘We keep getting the same data showing that minority ethnic teachers are failing disproportionately in whatever hurdles are set for them. The next stage is to start asking why this is happening. There needs to be rigorous and robust research on why these teachers are disadvantaged.’
The NUT fears that the DfES’s plan to cut costs by abandoning external checks on the heads’ threshold decisions will make it harder to track and prevent discrimination.
Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, all public bodies are required to carry out systematic ethnic monitoring and investigate discrepancies in outcomes.