Memorandum submitted by Multiverse




This response addresses the persistent underachievement of pupils particularly from minority ethnic groups, working class backgrounds and Traveller and Roma communities

It emphasises that the concept of 'good' quality teaching must include an understanding of and commitment to addressing diversity and underachievement

It sets out the reasons for addressing the under-representation of teachers from Black and minority ethnic groups

It highlights the valuable contribution made by higher education institutions in terms of research and the building of teaching capacity




1 Multiverse (funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools) is an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Professional Resource Network created to meet the challenge of raising the achievement of pupils from diverse backgrounds. It is a consortium of eight Initial Teacher Training institutions from across the country, with 3T Productions (subsidiary of Research Machines plc.) and Trentham Books, working with Local Education Authorities and community groups:

London Metropolitan University - Institute for Policy Studies in Education

Middlesex University

Northumbria University

University of Cumbria

University of Chichester

University of East London

University of Northampton

University of Sunderland


2 Multiverse was set up in 2003 in response to the Annual Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) survey conducted by the then Teacher Training Agency. The TTA survey in 2003 suggested that NQTs did not feel confident that Initial Teacher Training (ITT) had prepared them well for teaching learners from minority backgrounds (ME) and pupils with English as an additional language (EAL). However, the latest survey findings (2008) indicate that there has been a significant improvement in trainees' assessment of their training on ME and EAL. 38% percent of primary NQTs gave good or very good ratings for the ME question compared with 29% in 2003. 34% gave very good or good ratings for EAL compared with 22% in 2003. Secondary NQTs responses in 2008 were slightly higher than primary NQTs - 41% in relation to teaching learners from minority background, and 38% in relation to teaching learners with English as an additional language.


3 However compared to their evaluation of other aspects of ITT training, there is room for further improvement. This is borne out by hits on the Multiverse website. These indicate that on average 1500 users from the educational community (including trainees, tutors and school teachers) access the website daily.


4 Through its website Multiverse supports student teachers, trainees and teacher educators in developing understanding, confidence and knowledge with regard to teaching pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds and those with English as an additional language. Issues in relation to social class, religious diversity, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and Travellers and Roma are systematically addressed. The website holds resources selected and produced by experts working in the field of diversity, particularly from within the Multiverse Consortium. The resources range from ITT learning and teaching materials, research papers, government reports, articles from the media, case studies, and video clips. In January 2009 the website had 820 resources and 14,490 registered users (55% trainees, 22% tutors, 14% teachers).



Multiverse response to the Select Committee


Measuring quality


the extent to which there is an evidence for a shared sense of what makes for good quality teaching; and

the ways in which the quality of teaching can be measured


5 Judgements about what constitutes the characteristics of 'good' quality teaching are complex and may differ across ITT provider institutions. Training is guided by the TDA QTS Professional Standards.


6 Delivering diversity is a key aspect of how quality of teaching should be measured. Britain is a multiethnic society 'made up of a diverse range of ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions, which is constantly evolving' (DfES 2007). Diversity is also an important aspect of Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) and as part of this, trainees and teachers need to explore the range of pupils' identities: personal, national, local and global.

7 One of the main issues in relation to quality of teaching is the extent to which teachers are able to raise pupils' achievement, particularly of those from linguistically, socially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. Evidence from the DCSF Statistical First Release (2008) GCSE attainment results indicate that the following groups are still significantly underachieving:


Ethnic group

GCSE results (5 grade A*- C: national average 63.5% in 2008)


5 A*- C inc English & Maths

(National average 47.8%)


Black Caribbean

54% (up 4.9% from 2007)


Black African

60.3% (up 4.7% from 2007)



62.3% (up 3.5% from 2007)



58.2% (up 5.2% from 2007)



8 It is also important to note that pupils in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) have significantly lower levels of achievement across all Key Stages and in GCSE examinations. The 2008 GCSE results indicate that 40% of pupils eligible for FSM gain 5 GCSE Grade A* -C (compared with 67% of non FSM pupils - a gap of 27%. However, when English and Mathematics are included, 23.5% of pupils eligible for FSM gain 5 GCSE Grade A* - C and 51.3% for non-FSM pupils.


9 The figures for pupils from Traveller and Roma backgrounds are even more stark, indicating that their examination performance is below the national average at all Key Stages. In particular, GCSE results revealed that only 15.7% of such pupils gained 5 grade A*- C GCSEs whilst only 6.8% attained 5 A*- C if English and Mathematics are included.


10 Given such long-standing and continuing underachievement of the groups highlighted above, a training curriculum addressing underachievement needs to be a central part of ITT and the qualification standards that teachers are required to meet.

Entry into the teaching profession

the characteristics of those who are most likely to be good teachers and the extent to which they are reflected in current entry requirements for ITT;


11 Perceptions of a 'good' teacher vary according to ITT/school assessments, which may be conditioned by teacher background (e.g. ethnicity, social class, gender etc.). With regard to diversity, 'good' teachers are those who:


i) have high expectations of all pupils regardless of their background;

ii) are willing and have the ability to challenge stereotyped notions of pupils and their ability; and

iii) are able to challenge issues relating to racism (and other forms of prejudice) in their classroom practice (including the curriculum) and the wider school.


12 'Good' teachers should also have an understanding of and commitment to implementing recent legislation and school duties including race equality, community cohesion and the well-being of pupils in schools. ITT institutions should evaluate trainees' experience and commitment to the above prior to accepting them onto ITT courses.



whether the current range of routes into teaching is effective in attracting and developing those with the qualifications, skills and attributes to become good teachers;


13 Teachers enter the workforce with different values and life experiences, and this contributes to the differences in the way that inclusive professional practice is framed. There is a role for TDA in trying to ensure uniformity of approach across the different training routes.



the adequacy of current measures to improve the diversity of the teaching profession;


14 It is important to recognise that the lack of a properly representational teacher workforce is a systemic issue. Increased opportunities for educational success in schools amongst those groups currently under-represented should encourage the development of a more diverse workforce. Efforts are needed to address the perceived low status of teaching amongst some minority ethnic groups and to encourage recruitment.


15 Multiverse recognises TDA efforts to make the teaching profession more representative of the communities they teach, with the increased recruitment of Black and minority ethnic teachers. This currently stands at 11.8% (TDA 2008). However, there is evidence to suggest that some minority ethnic groups consider teaching a low status profession and therefore not worth entering (e.g. Cunningham and Hargreaves, 2007). Research has also shown that despite holding relevant qualifications some minority ethnic students were not entering teaching at the same rate as their White counterparts (Ross, 2002). Potential teachers from minority ethnic backgrounds are deterred from entering teaching owing to concerns about racism, delivering a Eurocentric curriculum, the absence of Black teachers as role models, low pay and lack of career progression (Dhingra and Dunkwu, 1995; Osler, 1997; Ross, 2002; Maylor et al., 2006; Cunningham and Hargreaves).



the extent to which existing ITT provision adequately prepares trainees for entry into the teaching profession, whether they intend to teach in primary schools, secondary schools, early years settings or further education settings.  (Comments are particularly welcome on whether provision meets the needs of new teachers in working with pupils with special education needs and of new teachers based in schools operating in more challenging circumstances)


16 The annual NQT survey data indicates that ITT provision does not yet adequately prepare teachers for teaching pupils from diverse backgrounds and pupils with EAL. It is important to develop trainees' understanding of the links between a range of educational issues. For instance, low attainment, special educational needs, behaviour management and social in/exclusion fall on a continuum rather than existing as separate entities. Specific reference to social class in the TDA Professional Standards for teachers would also signal the need to address what is a complex and important issue.


The delivery of ITT


the extent to which the current ITT system encourages innovation and diversity in approaches to ITT;

17 ITT should be encouraged to develop more innovative approaches to the delivery of training. The Multiverse website provides examples of innovative practice in ITT.



The role of higher education institutions in relation to ITT and the extent to which they make a distinctive contribution to provision;


18 Higher education institutions already make a distinctive contribution to ITT. They constitute a more diverse community of learners (e.g. ethnic, social, religious etc.). They thus have the ability to share experiences more widely and have greater access to resources and staff with research backgrounds, which encourages conceptual understanding of a broader spectrum of issues relating to teaching and learning.



The role of educational research in informing ITT provision;

19 Education research has an essential role to play in developing student/trainee knowledge and informing practice in relation to pupils' backgrounds and to the factors that affect their learning. These links are valuable, as they can stimulate reflection and change practice. See, for example, the module of teacher trainees as researchers in the project undertaken for Multiverse, entitled Addressing working class underachievement - L. Gazeley and M. Dunne (Dec 2005)


January 2009





Cunningham, M. & Hargreaves, L. (2007) Minority ethnic teachers' professional experiences: evidence from the teacher status project. Research Report 853 (London: DfES)


Dhingra, & Dunkwu, (1995) Why teaching is not for me: perception of

Black pupils. In V.Showunmi & D. Constantine-Simms (Eds.) Teachers for

the Future (Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books)


Maylor, U., Ross, A., Rollock, N. & Willams, K. (2006) Black teachers in London, a report for the Mayor of London (London: GLA)


Osler, A. (1997) The Education and Careers of Black Teachers. (Buckingham: Open University Press)


Ross, A. (2002) A representative profession? Ethnic minority teachers. In M. Johnson & J. Hallgarten (Eds.) From Victims of Change to Agents of Change: The Future of the Teacher Profession? (London: IPPR)