From the outside, one might assume England’s education system is tolerant of diversity, welcoming, and pluralistic. The truth is, to some extent it is. There are thousands of overseas trained teachers (OTTs) and teachers of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) heritage working in schools in England. These two groups of teachers experience one thing in common – race discrimination – built on assumptions of cultural inequality, fuelled by structures that promote a deficit model of difference and a politics of knowledge. Although thousands of teachers work in English schools, only a few from BAME heritage and migrant origin make it to leadership positions, despite having similar aspirations, qualifications, and work experience. Drawing on evidence from research on OTTs and teachers of BAME heritage, this chapter will show that five items present as barriers to the progression of OTTs of BAME heritage and teachers of BAME heritage as a whole including policy, race/racism, institutional practices, group membership, and religion (Islam). This chapter also provides a reconceptualization of promotion/progression for OTTs and teachers of BAME heritage based on three criteria: “affiliation,” “appeasement” (or “adaptation”), and “White sanction.” The chapter considers epistemological and ontological misunderstandings of difference and highlights the need for courageous and transformative leadership from policy makers and institutions in tackling race inequality in education in England.

Read the paper