With racism on the rise in the UK it is vital that the UK Government act on the recommendations of the Youth Select Committee 2016: ‘Young people and the issues of racism and religious discrimination’. This excellent report was produced after the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) voted for ‘Tackling racism and religious discrimination’ as their number one issue. In a ‘Make your mark’ ballot more than 95,000 young people made racism their number one issue of concern. The report had a series of recommendations which we at Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) fully support but have yet to see any evidence of being implemented.
For example, the report recommended ‘Better initial and continuous teacher training on tackling racism and religious discrimination’. If teachers are required by Ofsted to record and deal with examples of racism and prejudice in schools then they should surely receive training on how to do so?
SRtRC’s own surveys have shown that many teachers had received little or no training with regards to tackling racism or promoting race equality whist training or as part of continuous professional development during their teaching careers. As a consequence they do not have the confidence, knowledge or opportunity to be able to proactively educate about identity and associated prejudice and discrimination, or deal effectively with incidents which arise in the classroom.
To my knowledge, the only country in which the majority of teachers do receive a full day of dedicated anti-racism education training as part of their Initial Teacher Training courses is in Wales; thanks to the National Education Union (NEU) funding Show Racism the Red Card Wales to carry out this delivery.
The Youth Select Committee 2016 report also recommended: “Involving young people in raising awareness of tackling racism and religious discrimination in schools”. SRtRC work with 50,000 young people per year in the UK and we fully agree with the ethos of young people themselves being agents of change in combating racism. The last 8 years have however seen less and less funding for young people-led projects as austerity has meant these initiatives have been dramatically reduced.
Despite the growth of racism in and around schools - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hate-crime-schools-colleges-uk-education-rise-racism-lgbt-race-ethnicity-a8183061.html - there is little evidence to show that any of the recommendations in this UKYP report have been implemented in the last 18 months. If Theresa May and her Government are going to back up their statement that “This Government is absolutely committed to tackling racism and religious discrimination and ensuring that we have a inclusive society where everyone is respect” then we need to see some evidence that is implementing the recommendations in this report.
If Theresa May is serious about tackling racism - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-racism-review-government-race-audit-inequality-a7991316.html. Then we need to see some action from her Government and implementing the recommendations of the UKYP would be a great start.