From education to employment

Mental health and wellbeing of ethnic minority teachers 

blocks spelling out teach

This report set out to understand how the wellbeing of ethnic minority educators compared with the wider population. 

This report – made possible with the generous support of Wesleyan – set out to understand how the wellbeing of ethnic minority educators compared with the wider population. The research comprised of three focus groups, which were conducted by YouGov using its panel of education professionals. These included 26 teachers, middle leaders and senior leaders who identified as having ethnic minority backgrounds.

The results confirm many of the drivers of stress in the teaching profession, irrespective of race, including volume of workload, workplace culture and Ofsted pressures. The findings also clearly illustrate the differential experiences of Black and Brown and other ethnic minority teachers and leaders in schools across the country, including barriers to progression, tokenism and microaggressions.

Developed with insights from the BAMEed Network and Black Teachers Connect, the report explores the main drivers of stress among ethnic minority teachers, their experiences in the workplace and what needs to happen for real cultural change to take place.

In section two, we have set out to amplify the voices of research participants and to allow them to tell their story in their own way.

The Chartered College of Teaching and Education Support will hold an event on Thursday 2nd March with Professor Dame Alison Peacock and charity CEO, Sinéad Mc Brearty to discuss their latest research into the wellbeing of ethnic minority teachers. Participants will also have an opportunity to participate in a live discussion.

Sinéad Mc Brearty, Chief Executive of Education Support says:

“Racism has no place in schools or colleges. We all have a responsibility to understand how racism is experienced by colleagues, and to improve the system for everyone. 

Discrimination serves only to demoralise and ultimately drive good teachers out of the workforce.  This serves no-one, least of all children and young people. These findings point the way to simple, inexpensive strategies for improvement.”

We have summarised our key findings of the report below. You can download a full copy of our report here.

Stress is a normalised part of being a teacher, regardless of ethnicity

“If I say I am stressed, I get told to leave school at 4pm – but still produce all the data analysis by 9am the next morning.”
Middle leader

Teachers from an ethnic minority background have to deal with the stress of teaching, plus the additional impact of racist and racialised experiences.

“I’ve purposely been singled out as the token Black teacher when visitors have been in school.”
Middle leader

Ethnic minority teachers call for much wider equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training to create more inclusive cultures.

“I was told that I was supporting extremism – when simply we were visiting a Mosque to learn more about the religion for RE.”
Middle leader

Line management experiences are variable but getting it right can help with stress management.

“One of my AHT [Assistant Headteacher] colleagues often tells me I need to think more carefully how I portray myself … as a Brown man. Sometimes I feel I have to work harder than colleagues to prove myself …. and actually similarly other ethnic minorities”
Senior leader

Sector Response

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“The experiences of being overworked and undervalued are unfortunately common across the teaching profession, regardless of ethnicity. However, it is clear from this report and from what our Black members tell us that being from a minority ethnic background adds an additional layer of racist and racialist experiences in the workplace which are further undermining teachers’ dignity and morale.

“Black teachers commonly face additional barriers to pay and career progression, as well as overt and covert racism and discrimination in their daily working lives.

“For example, our most recent data from members indicates that 59% of Asian teachers and 53% of Black teachers who were expecting to move up the pay scale in 2020/21 as a result of their performance review did so in the academic year 2020/21, compared to 73% of White teachers.

“Our data indicates lower satisfaction levels among teachers from black backgrounds. While four in ten of White teachers described themselves as satisfied or very satisfied about their job, this dropped to 34% of Asian teachers and 33% of black teachers.

“The Government could take immediate action to tackle racialised pay gaps and discrimination in the workplace by strengthening regulation, but they have refused to do so.

“This failure to act is exacerbating the serious problems with the recruitment and retention of Black teachers in the profession and undermining the basic entitlement of all workers to be treated with respect and dignity.

“We are continuing our fight for racial justice for Black teachers and will be holding our Black Teachers’ Consultation Conference this coming weekend at which these and other issues affecting Black teachers’ working lives will be discussed.”

Natalie Arnett, senior equalities officer at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“The impact that heavy workload, high-stakes accountability and post-pandemic burnout has had on the health and well-being of senior leaders and teachers is well documented.

“However, this report reflects the additional burdens that many of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic members report having to face, including micro-aggressions and barriers to progression.

“These findings shine a light on distressing experiences which no one should have to endure and add further weight to our calls for the government to make anti-racism training mandatory for all school staff.”


This research study had three main aims:

  1. Provide insight into the issues and challenges experienced by ethnic minority teachers at work and how these may impact on their mental health and wellbeing
  2. Explore how stress impacts the mental health and wellbeing of ethnic minority teachers
  3. Recommend the resources most needed by education organisations which would benefit the mental health and wellbeing of ethnic minority teachers at work

The research comprised three online focus groups, which were conducted by YouGov using its panel of education professionals. Three focus groups explored:

  • Perceptions of their teaching career
  • Current challenges to the profession
  • Specific challenges for teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds
  • How this impacts on their mental health and wellbeing
  • How best they could be supported

The specific topic of stress experienced at work was also investigated, with reference to the overall findings in the Teacher Wellbeing Index (2022). Each focus group comprised teachers working at different levels in schools. The first group involved classroom teachers, the second group was middle leaders and the final group was senior leaders. All participants worked in primary or secondary schools (with learners aged 4-18) in different parts of England, and the majority worked in the state-funded education sector.

The focus groups were held online using YouGov’s text-based platform where the participants typed in their responses to the questions asked and discussed their experiences with each via text messages. Many of these messages have been included in this report, so that the reader can see the teachers’ views. The focus groups were conducted by two moderators from YouGov, one of whom was from a mixed-race background and one who was white. All focus groups were held in March 2022, lasted approximately 1.5 hours, and were observed by Education Support.

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