Through the Register of education practitioners we have been gathering information on teachers in Wales for 15 years. In that time we have asked registrants for a range data about themselves, like, age, gender and disability. Collecting and analysing this sort of data has enabled us to publish information on topics such as; ratio of male and female teachers by sector; and the gender split of headteachers. Some of this information has found its way into publications from other high profile organisations, eg the EHRC in Wales’ report ‘Who runs Wales’ (2014)
Since setting up the Register, however, we’ve noticed that information on disability has remained static over time. Our data shows that only 0.2% of registered teachers identify as having a disability, and this percentage is virtually unchanged.
We think this figure is under reported. According to the Office of National Statistics, in Wales about 26% of the population is most likely to have a limiting long-standing illness or disability.
As an organisation we have adopted the ‘social model’ of disability. In practice, this means that registrants who identify as having a disability choose to share this personal information with us. We should emphasise that this information is not available from public searches of the Register.
The Register was expanded in 2015 to include further education (FE) teachers, and in 2016 to include learning support staff in schools and FE, so the process of gathering data on these groups of registrants is just beginning. We are encouraging all registrants to make sure their record is up to date and as complete as possible. You can access your record through MyEWC.
We want to understand more about the professionals who register with us because accurate information and understanding will help us identify issues which potentially affect different groups, and we can provide guidance on overcoming them. By way of example, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) conducted research looking at experiences of newly qualified teachers with disabilities, and the former General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), ‘Removing barriers, promoting opportunities’ (2011).
Disability Wales has this to say about barriers to disclosure:
Attitudinal Barriers exist: - how an employer makes assumptions based on your impairment, i.e. can you do the job
Lack of information about Access to Work therefore information barriers exist:
Physical barriers exist re the layout and accessibility of school and college buildings and lack of flexibility regarding where disabled teachers can teach to accommodate access requirements i.e. can a class be taught on the ground floor if there are no lifts to other floors if a teacher or trainee teacher cannot negotiate the stairs?
Also confusion over reasonable adjustments, what is reasonable to the employer and what constitutes reasonable to the disabled employee can and very often does vary. It’s a grey area which requires compromise.
But we also recognise that it’s our job to make a convincing case to registrants of the power data can have as an evidence base for policy development on a national scale