Fewer than one in ten teachers in Northamptonshire are black or minority ethnic (Bame), new figures show, as campaigners call for them to be prioritised for coronavirus risks assessments.
Of the 6,089 teachers in Northamptonshire who provided their ethnicity to the School Workforce Census this year, eight per cent identified as Bame, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
This means the area’s education staff has become more ethnically diverse since 2010-11, the first year for which records are available, when six per cent of it was Bame.
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The proportion of Bame teachers has also risen across England over this time, from 11 per cent to 14 per cent.
Separate data from the ONS has shown the risk of death involving Covid-19 is “significantly higher” among some ethnic groups than for white people, with black men and women more than four times as likely to die from the disease.
Though the reasons for this are not yet clear, a report from BAMEed, a group which is attempting to diversify the teaching sector, says a “bespoke health and wellbeing offer” is needed for Bame workers.
It adds: “Risk assessment should be carried out for all staff, but especially for Bame staff as a priority, so that a personalised risk mitigation plan can be put in place for each member of staff.
“Measures to reduce exposure to risk must be implemented as a priority to protect the lives of staff and students.”
The organisation is calling for Bame staff and their families to be prioritised for testing, or considered for redeployment to lower risk areas if necessary.
Allowing teachers to continue working from home should be considered, while social distancing should be strictly maintained in classrooms, it added.
The proportion of Bame teachers in the workforce varies greatly across the country, with 60 per cent non-white in the London borough of Brent. Excluding the Isles of Scilly, which has just a few dozen school staff, Hartlepool, in the North East has the lowest rate in England, with just two per cent.
A survey by the NASUWT teaching union found Bame teachers were more likely to say they did not feel safe about the reopening of schools.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT, said the union has “serious concerns” about the racial disparities in Covid-19 deaths.
He added: “This is the consequence of a failure by Government to put racial justice firmly on its agenda in response to the pandemic and the failure of school and college employers to recognise the need to race equality-proof their plans for keeping teachers and other school staff safe and to treat Bame teachers with sensitivity, dignity and respect.”
He called for the Government to make public the evidence it is using to decide that the wider reopening of schools will not lead to further discriminatory impacts.
Schools were closed in March, with only vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers allowed to attend, before a phased reopening began in early June.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said further guidance will be published in the coming days on a full return to school in September for all pupils.
She said: “We have provided clear guidance for schools on measures to take to reduce risk of virus transmission when they begin welcoming back further pupils.
“Schools should be especially sensitive to the needs and worries of Bame members of staff, Bame parents and Bame pupils and should consider if any additional measures or reasonable adjustments may need to be put in place to mitigate concerns if helpful."