The SRtRC team presented their findings from a large survey with teachers and consultations with young people and teachers across Wales at the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay.
Tackling racism is the responsibility of everyone in our communities, both within the school gates and outside. As the largest union for teachers in Wales we are extremely proud of the work we do alongside Show Racism the Red Card in raising awareness of these issues and to help educate children. What is clear from this survey, and recent statistics, is that this work is as important now as it has ever been. NUT members have always believed passionately that education is about developing socially responsible individuals as well as academic attainment. Ensuring there is a sense of tolerance and respect is integral to that focus.
Stuart Williams, NUT Principal Officer and Chair of Show Racism the Red Card’s Wales Advisory Committee
On Tuesday 20th October at the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay, the SRtRC team presented their findings from consultations with young people and a large survey conducted with teachers across Wales. There were a mixture of Council Leaders, Assembly Members and Union Officers in attendance who listened to key speakers; Sunil Patel (SRtRC), Cabinet Secretary for Education in Wales Kirsty Williams AM, Jennifer Lam (Teacher Assistant & Community Support Worker), Ceri Nicole (SRtRC), Shazia Awan (SRtRC Patron) and Stuart Williams (NUT & SRtRC Wales Advisory Committee Chair).
The main findings that were outlined were as follows:
- Racism exists in schools across Wales
- Islamophobia is prevalent
- Anti-racism is mostly taught discreetly or reactively
- Teachers feel unequipped to deal with racist attitudes and incidents
- Students and teachers think more needs to be done in school to tackle racism
Some of the key findings contained shocking information about racist bullying in schools, a lack of teacher knowledge/confidence around tackling racism in the classroom and an overwhelming amount of Islamophobia in schools across Wales.
SRtRC hopes that Education and Local Authority council leaders will read the report and take the findings very seriously. The campaign recommends that anti-racism should be embedded and directly taught in the new primary and secondary curriculum and it should be mandatory for all school staff to undertake anti-racism training as part of their on-going continual professional development. These recommendations, along with a number of others, can be found in the full report
The campaign are also looking forward to working more closely with the Welsh Government after Cabinet Secretary Kirsty Williams said “I will not tolerate racism and bullying in the Welsh education system, and I expect schools and education services to also make it clear that it is entirely unacceptable – and to adopt a zero tolerance approach”. SRtRC believes there should be a larger-scale enquiry into children and young people’s experiences of racism in the education system and the impact it has on their learning, and they hope that the Welsh Government will help support this initiative.
The findings from the survey and consultations with young people highlighted more time and research needs to be given to uncover further truths about racism in the education system. Campaign manager Sunil Patel said “The results are shocking and we are pleased to have some great coverage from the media about this event. We hope that these findings encourage further support to young people and teachers, which they so evidently need. The research we conducted is just the tip of the iceberg about what is happening in schools across Wales and we really hope this issue is now taken more seriously and becomes a priority for those in policy and decision makers with the power to influence change.”
Consultations that SRtRC undertook with young people across Wales also re-illustrated the importance of educating about Islamophobia in schools. SRtRC patron Shazia Awan said “This report today highlights that 97% of young people have heard damaging comments about Muslims with themes of fear, terrorism, killing, bombing and ISIS.” The survey with teachers also indicated the rise in Islamophobia as Shazia continued “In the past 12 months alone, one in five teachers have responded to or reported Islamophobic incidents in schools in Wales.”
We encourage the report to be shared by others and hope that this will be a catalyst for racist bullying in Welsh schools to be taken more seriously and all our young people are protected regardless of their background.
Finally, we would like to thank Cabinet Secretary for Education for hosting the event and also to Simpson Millar LLP solicitors and Unison who were sponsors of the event.