Black alumni teachers reflect on UEL training
05 November 2021
Teachers from Black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds who work in some of London's most disadvantaged areas have spoken about how their University of East London Initial Teacher Training (ITT) education has propelled their careers.
The School of Education and Communities at UEL has a 20-year history of successfully recruiting future Black teachers in science, technology and maths (STEM) subjects. In the last six years alone, 511 BAME newly-qualified teachers have graduated, including 131 Black teachers, comprising 20 per cent of each year's cohort. Around 71 per cent of all graduates are from BAME backgrounds.
The extent of UEL's efforts to increase the diversity of the profession follows the launch of a project by seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton to support the recruitment of 150 black teachers in science, technology and maths (STEM) subjects in England.
His initiative follows the publication of a report by his own Hamilton Commission focusing on the lack of diversity within UK motorsport and "identifying the best way to attract Black talent to STEM teaching roles".
Bashir Essa (Computer Science PGCE, 2020) is now teaching in a multicultural school in inner London. He said,
"Coming from an east African Somali background, I never came across Somali teachers when I was in school myself some 20 years ago. When I meet students of my culture they are always shocked – in a good way – when they find out about my heritage.
"I am hoping to inspire the next generation of Black African/Caribbean students and show how they can have a positive impact on their community. I strive to bring the best out of the students I teach."
Alumni Richard Frimpong is currently teaching GSCE Science and A-level Chemistry in St Aloysius College in north London. He is the deputy head of science and graduated from UEL in 2015. He said,
"I am originally from Ghana and moved to London in 2008. The teacher training l received from UEL has been very valuable – it propelled me to where I am today and I have been blessed to rise up the career ladder. I have always highlighted my background to my students, and it is testament to what Lewis Hamilton is trying to do.
"Some of the most valuable things I learnt during my UEL education were about good behaviour management, including the use of rewards and appropriate punishment, planning and teaching outstanding lessons and professionalism in teaching; and how to communicate with parents well."
Alumni Muntakim Abdal graduated in 2021 in PGCE Biology and teaches in Newham. He said:
"There is no doubt in my mind that the delivery of content, opportunity for deliberate practice and relevance of assessment modules had a significant impact on preparing me well to teach in a local school.
"Much of the course was based around how I could use the Teachers' Standards, theory and placements to improve myself as I began my career. The combination of a diverse cohort with varying backgrounds, a strong relationship with local schools and a focus on improving practice to suit teaching in a borough as diverse as Newham meant that the UEL ITT course was a great foundation for me."
Find out about the various PGCEs available at UEL here.
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