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Education Survey Reveals Alarming Disparity: Incidents of Racism Prevail in Schools while Anti-Racism Training for Educators Lags

In a recent survey conducted by Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC), a concerning trend has emerged, shedding light on the prevalence of incidents of racism within educational settings. The survey, which gathered over 1100 responses from educators in *England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, found that 55% of respondents reported being aware of incidents involving racism in their schools over the past 24 months, with an additional 8% expressing uncertainty. This revelation underscores a critical issue within the education system, prompting a closer examination of the capacity of educators to address and combat racism.

Perhaps even more striking is the fact that 56% of the surveyed educators disclosed that they have not received any anti-racism Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the past two years, or were unsure if they had (4%). This glaring lack of training indicates that a significant portion of staff in educational settings may not be adequately equipped to handle incidents of racism effectively.

 

The survey has ignited discussions among educators from all sectors, from Early Years right through to Higher Education, highlighting the need for comprehensive anti-racism training programmes. One survey participant recounted this traumatic experience:

“Staff of colour appear to have a better understanding of racism in my school environment. Racism needs to be addressed in a timely manner otherwise pupils are given the impression it’s ok to abuse staff of colour. More training and how to approach the subject amongst staff and pupils is necessary. My experience of racism last year (from 2 pupils who joined forces against me) was very distressing – My teacher & senior management (all white) did not appear to be fully in control of the situation due to lack of awareness & experience.”

Another teacher who participated in the survey, commented, ‘‘I think that adults can sometimes be worried about saying the ‘wrong thing’ with regards to issues around racism and so sometimes don’t say anything. The more equipped adults in schools feel to discuss and challenge racism, the better’’.

The comment reflects a broader sentiment among educators, emphasising the importance of creating a supportive environment where those working with learners feel empowered to address and challenge instances of racism without fear of misstep. The findings of this survey suggest that there is a crucial need for educational institutions to prioritise anti-racism training and professional development opportunities for educational staff.

Survey Reveals Varied Confidence Among Educators in Tackling Racist Behaviour

The survey results also highlight a varied landscape in educators’ confidence levels, emphasising the need for professional development and support in navigating complex issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Confidence Level Number of Respondents
Extremely Confident 276
Fairly Confident 582
Neutral 86
Limited Confidence 135
Not at All Confident 35

Progress has been made – in 2023 SRtRC reached the milestone of 1 million people engaged in anti-racism activities – however, the survey suggests there is still work to be done to ensure all educators feel equipped to confront racism in educational settings.  SRtRC are currently expanding good practice in Wales and across England, and look forward to working in continuing partnerships with a growing number of teacher training providers.

SRtRC Honorary President

Shaka Hislop, SRtRC President, observed “I find the revelations from this survey deeply disturbing. It underscores the urgency for a transformative shift in our approach to education. The stark reality that a significant percentage of educators lack anti-racism training is a call to action. We must invest in empowering educators with the knowledge and tools to foster a truly inclusive learning environment. Commitment to eradicating racism in schools must extend beyond rhetoric; it demands tangible and immediate action for the well-being and future of our educators and students.”

Elsewhere in the UK positive change has already begun. In Scotland, the national Building Racial Literacy programme promotes anti-racism as a baseline professional value, empowering educators to identify and implement anti-racist behaviours and processes in their everyday practice. In Wales, high quality, free, diversity and anti-racist professional learning (DARPL) is available to all education professionals across Wales, as Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic contributions and experiences become a mandatory part of the Curriculum for Wales. In addition, through partnership with the NEU, SRtRC Wales has delivered anti-racism professional learning for student teachers across Welsh universities for over 10 years.

As incidents of racism persist within schools, the onus is on the Department for Education in England to implement robust training initiatives that not only raise awareness but also equip educators with the tools and confidence to navigate conversations and effectively challenge racism. The survey results also serve as a call to action for teacher training institutions to make anti-racism training part of initial teacher training courses, so that learning environments are inclusive, equitable and ethical for students and educators alike.

*In Wales a separate survey is underway

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