Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has launched a scheme to boost the number of black teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
The two-year programme is the first partnership announced by Hamilton’s Mission 44 charity, which seeks to improve opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The project aims to support the recruitment and training of 150 black STEM teachers in schools that serve disadvantaged communities in England.
It will be delivered in partnership with education charity Teach First and will trial a range of approaches to recruitment.
The Hamilton Commission report, published earlier this year, found that only 2% of teachers in England are from black backgrounds, out of a teaching population of around 500,000. Almost half of schools in the country have no black, Asian or minority ethnic teachers at all.
Only 1.1% of teachers are black African, compared with a 2.1% representation in the working-age population.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton said: “We know representation and role models are important across all aspects of society, but especially when it comes to supporting young people’s development.”
He said the initial two-year programme is hoped to “create a framework the wider education industry can implement”.
The recruitment of more black STEM teachers was one of the recommendations made in the Hamilton Commission report. It said: “This would increase the number of black role models in STEM subjects that lead to engineering and motorsport careers. The pilots should be evidence based and fully evaluated, with lessons disseminated to influence a wide range of teacher recruitment organisations.”
The report said that the presence of teachers from the same ethnic backgrounds “may reduce ‘stereotype threats’ and boost minority students’ confidence, esteem and enthusiasm”.
“There is also evidence that minority ethnic students benefit from coming into contact with teachers from the same ethnic background, who can act as role models, cultural brokers and cultural experts. They also fulfil the role of advocate for minority students acting as ‘translators’ and forming a ‘bridge’ between minority and dominant cultures.”