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'My daughter felt under attack for being a young, black girl': Survey reveals extent of racism in schools

Credit: ITV News

Teachers in Wales are not being trained to deal with the "rapid rise of racism in schools" according to new research by the charity Show Racism the Red Card.

In a survey of nearly 800 teachers and teaching staff in Wales, seen exclusively by ITV Cymru Wales, nearly a third said a child had been bullied for their skin colour in their current school.

One mother has spoken to ITV News about the experience her daughter faced in the classroom.

Soraya says her daughter was racially bullied for years at various schools in Wales. Eventually she decided the only way to make it stop, was to remove her daughter from school altogether.

In one sense I feel like she's been robbed of the chance to live a normal school experience.

But then there's another part of me that feels, in a way, relieved that she's not having to go to school and feel under threat, and under attack and vilified and persecuted simply for being a young, black, girl.

– Soraya, parent

In the survey, a quarter of teachers said they had observed, responded to, or had a pupil report racial discrimination in the last 12 months.

The survey also shows nearly two thirds of teachers said they had not received any training in teaching anti-racism in their school.

26%
observed racial discrimination
63%
no training in teaching anti-racism

Show Racism the Red Card Wales’ survey also allowed for teachers to anonymously describe individual examples of racism in their schools.

One teacher wrote that a year 11 child of colour was asked if he was a slave. Another, referring to an incident between a year seven and a year nine pupil, included the younger child being told they would be “going home” after Brexit.

Other responses include descriptions of pupils being “spat at” because of their immigration status or nationality. One teacher said racist incidents were “too numerous to type” – and that racist slurs and homophobia occurred weekly in their school.

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Students spat at or intimidated due to their nationality and immigration status.

– A teacher's survey response

Year 7 and 9 students - comments were related to Brexit, saying that the younger child would be 'going home'.

– A teacher's survey response

I’m afraid it is too numerous to type. At least weekly there are racist slurs (along with homophobia) heard in school.

– A teacher's survey response

Most of the responses include words or descriptions of incidents that are too offensive to publish.

The National Education Union Cymru said the Welsh Government should incorporate anti-racism training into the new curriculum.

A spokesperson for the NEU Cymru said: "An important part of this training is equipping teachers to deal with such incidents when they occur.

"In order to eliminate racism from our schools, Show Racism the Red Card Wales need to deliver their excellent pupil workshops in schools all over Wales. At present, only 6 of the 22 Local Authorities support the campaign’s work. The other 16 Local Authorities also need to support the campaign if it is to succeed".

It is extremely important that those who have responsibility to protect young people in the education sector take into account our imminent report that has explored this further and take urgent steps to address the high levels of racism being experienced by children as young as 5 years of age.

It is encouraging that resources have been made available in the short-term by Welsh Government, but, we remain extremely concerned as there needs to be a sustained long term approach to tackle racism in schools that includes increased levels of core funding for the race sector in Wales.

– Sunil Patel, campaign manager for Show Racism the Red Card Wales
Credit: ITV News

The survey showed that 89% of teachers who responded said anti-racism should be in the curriculum, yet nearly 40% said it was not taught in their school.

In a statement, the Welsh Government said it has trained teachers in how to deal proactively with any racist incidents.

We condemn racism in any form and expect allegations of racism to be fully investigated by schools with appropriate action taken to address the matter and prevent further instances from happening.

Through our Hate Crime in Schools and Hate Crime Minority Community grants we are funding workshops for children and teachers in more than 200 schools across Wales. These include teacher training on how to develop children's critical thinking skills to identify and challenge misinformation or hate speech.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Soraya's daughter has now been without any education for more than eight months and yet she still says she is better off away from school because of racism.

Credit: ITV News

As a parent you obviously want to protect your child. And you want to feel as if your child is going to fit in and just feel safe.

But it got to the point where it was almost as if, it's not just a child problem, it's becoming a problem that the schools are not dealing with and that was affecting me as a parent because I'm helpless.

What can I do, except raise complaints and my concerns?

– Soraya

The local authority Soraya and her daughter live in said in a statement that they are still trying to find adequate educational provision for them.

“The Council takes allegations of this nature extremely seriously. We remain in contact with this student and her mother and are committed to identifying educational provision that is acceptable to both parties."