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Racialised experiences and retention of minority ethnic teacher trainees

A gap persists between the proportion of students and teachers from minority ethnic groups in England. This is largely due to the higher leaving rates of these teachers. The attrition starts already during the training courses. Initial Teacher Education (ITE) completion rates among minority and non-minority ethnic trainees differ. UCAS data and school workforce figures suggest that only half of Black and Asian students accepted on ITE courses subsequently remain classroom teachers. This study contributes to the field of race and ITE by investigating the effects of teaching placement and PGCE university course factors on minority ethnic student teachers’ thoughts of staying in teaching, with a particular focus on their racialised experiences.

The study will adopt a sequential mixed-methods design. Firstly, it will survey minoritised PGCE students across two London providers to highlight student teachers’ racialised experiences.

The focus of the survey will be on experiences of racial microaggressions in school placements and on ITE courses (e.g., assumptions of lower intelligence, deviance; assumptions related to myths of meritocracy; statements that indicate colour-blindness/colour-evasiveness; observing a relative absence of people of colour from settings and other subtle messages of being less valued or welcome, etc.).

Secondly, to help us explain and exemplify the survey findings, we will conduct focus groups with up to six student teachers each. In this part of the research, we will aim to account for challenges experienced by trainees from different minority ethnic groups on certain PGCE programmes to highlight racialised experiences specific to ethnic groups across subjects and phases.

The recommendations based on the findings of this research will be of interest to ITE providers beyond participating universities (including providers such as Teach First), school partners and professional bodies (including Charted College of Teaching, Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, especially the latter’s Equality Commission), ASCL, BAMEed, and race-equality think tanks such as the Runnymead Trust.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Antonina Tereshchenko

Related Research Group(s)


Education, Identities and Society - Research at the intersection of Education, Sociology, Human Geography, Youth Studies and Digital Presence.

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Project last modified 09/01/2024