768 racist incidents in Plymouth schools
In the past four years there have been 768 reported racist incidents in Plymouth schools, according to new figures.
The city’s 67 primary schools, accounted for 342 incidents – which can range from name-calling to physical abuse. Sixteen secondary schools reported 241 incidents between them.
Eight special schools recorded 208 cases, according to a detailed analysis.
Among secondary schools, only Devonport High School for Girls recorded no incidents in the four years.
Stoke Damerel Community College had a poorer record with 22 cases in 2010/11 alone.
Mount Tamar special school, which has just 91 pupils aged from five to 16, had 67 cases in the same year.
A Plymouth City Council spokeswoman said that high numbers did not necessarily imply high levels of racism.
“Schools report racist incidents to our education, learning and family support department so that we can target appropriate support to pupils and teachers,” she said.
“Schools that are rigorous in addressing and reporting these incidents are not necessarily schools in which there is the highest proportion of racism, but rather, they are schools with increasing levels of diversity, committed to tackling negative attitudes and inequalities.
“We encourage our schools to be proactive in reporting racist incidents so we can actively work to educate our young people in developing positive attitudes.
“The council reports this information to the Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board, which is used as evidence in our multi-agency work aimed at keeping young people safe.”
According to figures obtained by the BBC there were nearly 88,000 racist incidents were recorded in Britain’s schools between 2007 and 2011.
Data from 90 areas shows 87,915 cases of racist bullying, which can include name calling and physical abuse.
Birmingham recorded the highest number at 5,752, followed by Leeds with 4,690. Carmarthenshire had the lowest number with just five cases.
A racist incident is defined as any situation perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.
The Department for Education said racism needed to be “rooted out”.
After the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, the previous Government ordered schools in England and Wales to monitor and report all incidents of racist abuse to their local authority.
However, the coalition Government has changed that guidance and schools now have no duty to record and report the data.
Sarah Soyei of the anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card said: “Unfortunately, the numbers of recorded racist incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.
“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.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “These numbers are disappointingly high.”
The Department for Education defended the change in its guidance for schools. “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,” a spokesperson said.
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