Economic and Social Research Council

Seminar Series:

Diverse Teachers for Diverse Learners

Research and Perspectives

In each of the jurisdictions of the UK and in the other countries participating in this seminar series (including Canada, Iceland, Norway and Australia) there is increasing ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity amongst the populations due to a range of political and economic factors.  This diversity is reflected in learner populations in schools.  Yet in the countries under consideration the teaching profession is predominantly white, female and (with the exceptions of Gaelic medium education in Scotland, Welsh medium education in Wales and French immersion in Canada) Anglophone.  Ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity is not reflected in the teaching profession and where teachers diversifying from this ‘norm’ are employed they have often experienced discrimination in the workforce and there are high rates of attrition.

As the diversity of the student population of schools increases it is essential that the linguistic and cultural needs of all pupils are met.  Many teachers from backgrounds other than the dominant one, bring the potential of linguistic and cultural capital to enhance the teaching profession and the learning of students.  This seminar series has involved employers in addition to academics, teachers and learners and aimed to encourage those with responsibility throughout the UK jurisdictions to view diverse teachers as a resource rather than a deficit and to be able to capitalize on the particular skill sets brought to the profession by diverse teachers.

The series has sought to explore the nature of the existing diversity in the teaching profession and to consider diversity in the life cycle of teachers as professionals from the decision to become a teacher through to leaving the profession, including the continuing professional development and career progression of such teachers.

This final seminar will bring together participants from Seminars 1,2 and 4 along with the evidence from Seminars 3 (teachers) and 5 (school students) and will investigate via a SWOT analysis how to move forward and disrupt the inertia which results in teacher homogeneity.   This seminar will identify the major research questions that now need investigation in order to ensure the programme leads to theoretical and research developments.

Geri Smyth was interviewed  by the  General Teachers Council of Scotland regarding the ESRC Diverse Teachers/Diverse Learners Seminar Series.   The interview is now available as a podcast on the Teaching Scotland website.  Here is the link: