IF Scotland is to be a genuinely multicultural society, then this has to be reflected in our schools. If pupils from Black or Ethnic Minority (BME) groups perceive teaching as a profession featuring few people from their own background then, as well as making them uncomfortable, it might make them less likely to join the profession themselves. Indeed, previous research has shown this to be the case. As Professor Rowena Ashad, chair of a Scottish Government working group set up to investigate the issue, reported one BME pupil telling her: “If I cannot see myself there, then I cannot imagine myself there.”

This is a highly undesirable situation. Though they make up four per cent of the Scottish population, people from a BME background account for just over one per cent of the teaching profession. The figures, it should be noted, are much higher in our major cities, where most BME populations are found.

It’s also fair to say that, as a Glasgow City Council survey found earlier this year, the families of some BME pupils may wish them to enter other professions. Nonetheless, the disparity in representation is distinctly disquieting and, while it would be unwise to suggest under-representation is indubitably caused by racism (conscious or unconscious), it would be reasonable to maintain the suspicion that it might be.

The working group makes several positive suggestions that include “explicitly referencing” race issues in teachers’ Professional Standards, understanding the need to recruit diverse staff, encouraging ethnic minority students to identify teaching as a profession of choice, and reviewing university admission policies. Prof Ashad has suggested a target of four per cent representation by 2030, which does not seem an unreasonable aspiration. Though it’ll never be an exact statistical science, a self-declared multi-ethnic society has to reflect diversity in its school staffing. Scotland cannot consider itself inclusive if sections of the population feel excluded from important areas of public and professional life.