Azuraye Williams portrait

Written by Azuraye Williams

Year 6 Teacher, Science, PE, Diversity and Inclusion Lead.

Initial Thoughts

It can be so hard looking for a new job as a black or brown teacher. Your first thought might be to look at the teaching staff of the school and see if there are any other people of colour working there. With the recent statistics that have been made wide news, you will understand that it can sometimes be quite hard to find such a place. 

 

Once you have searched, you may have a few of the following questions to think about:

  • Is the school ‘ready’ to have a black or brown teacher there?
  • Am I ready to work somewhere that I will be ‘culturally alone’?
  • How will the school deal with anything towards race, identity, racism and culture?
  • How will they respond to me if I talk about something I feel uncomfortable with?
  • Will the school support my progression or will I just be there to ‘tick a box’? 

 

These questions will be flowing through the minds of people of colour before they even think about if they really want to apply for the job. Sometimes this process alone is enough to talk you out of even applying. 

 

The Process

The next thought is the writing process. You may worry that to even be in with a chance of an interview your letter has to stand out even more – especially if your name is of a cultural background- as the schools may have already shown that it does not openly employ black or brown people.

 

Then you think about the interview with thoughts such as:

How can I seem as though I can ‘fit in’ to the school, while also wanting to embrace my own true self?

Or, 

Will I see someone who looks like me on the interview panel?

 

What Now

Now although I say this, I am not speaking for all black and brown people or indeed about every interview. I just wanted to speak my own truth to share experiences and conversations I have had with other black and brown educators. 

 

The reason I say this is because although it is important to teach the children about different people and cultures, to truly bring the teaching world alight for people of colour, it starts at the top. Employing people of colour and actually listening to them when they make suggestions or point out something in school rather than just feeling it is ‘the right thing to do’ to tick a box or ‘look good’ from the outside.

 

It isn’t enough for schools to put a plaque up and a heading on their website to say they are anti-racist if their whole culture and ethos shows the opposite. Employing and learning about other cultures is one thing but truly allowing eyes, hearts and minds to be challenged in their biases and allowing the discomfort this may bring to elicit deeper change is what is really needed in schools.

 

So many black and brown teachers enter into this system as enthusiastic, knowledgeable and hard working individuals and yet they leave the profession years later being down-trodden, overlooked, misrepresented and sometimes (more often than many would like to say) mistreated.

Remember, this is a whole school approach and it is everyone’s responsibility to develop this across school. Higher leaders and educators have the capacity to make these real changes as without the support and backing from those higher up in the hierarchy, no amount of diversity lessons will make any real difference to the school culture.

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