A female primary school teacher writes on a white board during a lesson

Classroom for improvement: Nearly a quarter of primary schools in England only have white female teachers, WBS research found

New research from Warwick Business School has laid bare the scale of the diversity crisis in schools, with more than half (55 per cent) of primary schools having no ethnic minority teachers.

This number has barely changed in years, with the failure to make progress feeding into wider recruitment and retention issues for teachers.

The research also found that nearly a third (30 per cent) of primary schools had no male classroom teachers, with almost a quarter (23 per cent) of schools in England having only white female teachers.

Joshua Fullard, Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science, conducts an annual study of the demography of primary school teachers in England. He said this year’s results showed little progress had been made.

“Diversity in the classroom matters,” he said. “We know ethnic minority students and young boys are missing out by not having teachers that represent them. This will worsen existing gaps in attainment and inequality in adulthood.

“This data shows the highly limited progress being made on diversity in the classroom, with slow progress in achieving a representative pool of teachers.

“With recent research showing that three in 10 teachers would be better off financially if they quit, and could enjoy better career progression in another profession as their skills are highly transferrable, it’s hardly surprising the pool of potential teachers is shrinking every year.”

Existing research has shown that children perform best educationally if they are taught by a diverse mix of teachers, with research showing that ethnic minority students did better academically with a teacher of the same race.

The effect was particularly pronounced on lower performing students.

Recent statistics have shown the UK Government failing to hit targets for the number of teachers in training, with record numbers of educators quitting in 2023.

Why is the number of male classroom teachers so low?

The research shows that the number of state funded schools in England with no male teacher has risen over the last two years. It also found that the lack of ethnic and gender diversity is even worse in senior roles.

The study showed 46 per cent percent of schools did not have a male on the senior leadership team, while 88 per cent do not have a senior leader from an ethnic minority background.

Men are less likely to apply to teacher training (roughly 30 per cent of applicants are male) and are less likely to be placed into a teacher training programme (58 per cent vs 65 per cent).

Those male teachers who complete their initial teacher training are also slightly more likely to leave the profession. Consequently, the proportion of teachers who are male remains at a record low (24 per cent).

There are four local authorities where more than half of the primary schools do not have a male teacher at all (West Berkshire, Northumberland, Cumbria and Windsor and Maidenhead).

Likewise, there are six local authorities where more than 80 per cent of schools do not have a teacher from an ethnic minority background (County Durham, Cumbria, Isles of Scilly, North Yorkshire, Shropshire and York).

Further reading:

Why are male teacher numbers falling?

AI used to help disadvantaged Warwick students

Leaving essays to the last minute can ruin your grades

Does using games to teach maths at university work?


Joshua Fullard is Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science and teaches Big Data Analytics on MSc Management, MSc Business Analytics, MSc Business with Marketing, MSc Business with Operations Management and MSc International Business.

Learn more about behavioural science on the four-day Executive Education course Behavioural Science in the Real World at WBS London at The Shard.

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