Racism in Schools
Show Racism the Red Card's Response to the BBC Report
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“The NUT is proud to be working alongside Show Racism the Red Card to help address the issue of racism. Racism should have no place in our schools, or in our society. Working together we can provide the training, materials and the support schools need to help educate the whole school community and create a positive, safe, welcoming school environment.”
- Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
We welcome the report by the BBC into racism in schools as it highlights that racism between pupils remains widespread and is a regular fact of life for many pupils. Targeted individuals may become scared, depressed and lacking in self-confidence and this can impact heavily on their progress at school.
Teachers may genuinely be unaware of racism amongst their pupils. Young people often take care not to use racially abusive language in front of teachers and pupils on the receiving end may not share their experiences. They are often worried about grassing, being dismissed or making the situation worse.
However, despite this fact, in the course of our research 83% of teachers who responded had witnessed racist behaviour amongst their pupils and many felt that there were strong racist attitudes amongst the pupil cohort.
There is a significant lack of training for teachers in this area. 39% of teachers who responded to our research had never received training in tackling racism or promoting equality. Of those who had, most felt the training was cursory and that they felt ill-equipped to promote equality and tackle racism in the classroom
Racist incidents in schools are vastly under-reported. Many teachers are unaware of how to recognise and deal with racist incidents when they arise, with many respondents saying that they would not like to step in if it was “unintentional”, “the first time it had happened” or there was no clear target or victim. Therefore, where there is a rise in reported incidents in a particular school or area it may be due to increased awareness and confidence in the reporting system rather than an increase in incidents.
The current government has made it clear that, whilst schools may wish to carry on recording racist incidents there is no statutory duty for them to do so and many local authorities have stopped collecting this data.
Recording racist incidents is nothing to do with labelling and punishing young people. Recording racist incidents means that schools are able to identify patterns; do incidents rise in response to particular local or national events? Are the incidents all of a particular nature or between specific groups of young people?
It helps schools to identify whether any strategies that they have put in place are having an effect and to identify whether there are any specific training needs for staff or pupils. Young people need to be educated in order for them to reject prejudice and help them to understand why racist attitudes and behaviours are wrong.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it creates a school environment where young people know that they will be taken seriously, where all young people feel valued and racism and discrimination are not accepted. It is beneficial for the Local Authority to collect information, so that they can gain a better understanding of issues within schools and offer relevant help and support.
Whilst the systems are still imperfect We are concerned that if schools stop recording the incidents that are occurring amongst their pupil cohort this will affect their ability respond appropriately and effectively to the issues of racism that young people are facing.
Over the next 12 months we are working in partnership with the NUT to deliver 5 regional teacher training events which will better empower teachers to better tackle racism and promote equality and we have worked with hundreds of schools and we have seen that where schools take a positive whole school approach to the issue, the effect is massively positive in creating a whole school environment where everyone feels safe and able to achieve.
More details about the guidance on recording and reporting racist incidents in schools can be found here
Show Racism the Red Card's Research into the Barriers to Tackling Racism and Promoting Equality in schools can be found here
1. Training, which provides teachers with a thorough understanding of how to tackle racism and promote equality needs to be an integral part of initial teacher training. If training is not provided, then it is unreasonable to expect that teachers will be able to deal with these issues in the classroom.
2. Pupils need to be provided with safe spaces to express their views and openly discuss and reflect on issues of ethnicity and racism, so that they have an opportunity to learn about difference, dispel misinformation and create school environments where pupils value diversity and difference and every pupil feels safe and able to achieve.
3. Clear statutory guidelines on responding to racist incidents would by extremely helpful in assisting schools and ensuring that incidents are dealt with appropriately and consistently.
4. Ultimately the government needs to adopt policy which is underpinned by social justice and does not allow negative, false media discourse to dominate public and media debate.
If you would like any further information please contact Sarah Soyei e-mail: Sarah@theredcard.org tel: 07740364715