Nearly 88,000 racist incidents recorded in schools
Nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in schools, between 2007 and 2011, figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request have revealed.
87,915 cases of physical or mental abuse were recorded from 90 areas across England, Wales and Scotland. Birmingham logged the highest number of incidents at 5,752, followed by Leeds with 4,690, BBC News reports.
“Racism needs to be rooted out wherever it occurs, and particularly in schools, where every child has the right to learn in an environment free from prejudice,” a Spokesperson from the Department for Education (DfE) commented. “It is teachers and parents, not central Government, that know what is happening in their schools and they are best placed to deal with racist behaviour when it happens.”
“We would expect all schools to implement their own processes to ensure they are dealing with racist incidents in the most appropriate way, rather than being bogged down with paperwork from the centre, which can sometimes mean that the most serious cases of racism are not dealt with.”
Reported racist incidents in schools rose from 22,285 to 23,971 between 2007 and 2010. Many areas including Luton, Oldham, Croydon, Bedford and Middlesbrough saw an increase of 40 per cent or more over the period 2007/08 to 2009/10.
Many local education authorities say that the increase is due to a better recording of incidents, after schools were ordered to monitor and report all abuse up to 2010. However, anti-racism charities say that it is a growing problem in many areas.
Sarah Soyei, of the anti-racism educational charity, Show Racism the Red Card (SRRC), said: " Racism is a very real issue in many classrooms around the country, but cases of racist bullying are notoriously underreported. Often teachers may not be aware of racism in their classrooms because victims are scared of reporting them out of fear of making the situation worse."
Teaching unions have also spoken out against the increase in incidents, after research undertaken by SRRC revealed that 83 per cent of teachers surveyed had witnessed racist behaviour amongst their pupils. The research, ‘The barriers to tackling racism and promoting equality in schools’ launched at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) headquarters in October 2011, found a ‘significant lack’ of training for teachers in this area. 39 per cent of teachers who responded had never received training in promoting equality. Those that had felt that the training was cursory and they felt ill-equipped to promote equality and to tackle racism in the classroom.