Mother whose daughter was racially bullied calls for compulsory training in schools

Sally said her family were “deeply let down” by the way the school handled racist bullying against her daughter Credit: Y Byd ar Bedwar

The mother of a 14-year-old child who says they left Wales following racist bullying has called for anti-racism training to be made compulsory for all teachers. 

Sally and her family moved to the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd in 2020 but left two years later saying they felt “deeply let down” by the way Ysgol Botwnnog near Pwllheli dealt with the racism. 

Anti-racism training is not compulsory for teachers but there are free resources available.

Sally argued unless it is made mandatory in school, it will not become a priority.

The Welsh Government says it does not have any plans to make anti-racism training compulsory, and it is committed to creating an anti-racist nation by 2030. 

Sally’s teenage daughter told Y Byd ar Bedwar she felt the school did the ‘bare minimum’ when dealing with the racism.

The move to Gwynedd was initiated by Sally’s husband who had spent time in the area as a child and described it as “paradise”. 

But paradise quickly turned into a nightmare when Sally’s daughter came home and said she was being racially bullied on the bus home from school.

Sally told S4C’s current affairs programme, Y Byd ar Bedwar, “I’ve never heard of racial abuse to the extent that my daughter was subjected to by those year nine students on the bus home.

“They were reeling off the N word. One boy in the classroom drew the swastika on his hand and showed it to her to demean her and make her feel worthless” she added.

The extent of the racism came to light through Sally’s daughter’s artwork.

Sally said she went to the school with her husband to meet senior staff, who were “disgusted” to hear of the racism and suspended the bullies for two days. 

Sally said the school assured them it wouldn’t happen again but a few months later, another incident happened on school grounds with another pupil. 

The family claim the incident was not recorded properly by the school. 

They eventually left Wales and relocated to the north of England. 

A spokesperson from Cyngor Gwynedd Council on behalf of Ysgol Botwnnog said racism was of great concern to them and urged pupils to discuss cases with the school. 

In a statement, it said, "The Education Authority, and all Gwynedd schools, take all incidents of racism, bullying and harassment very seriously. We strive hard to ensure that our schools are inclusive and equitable places.

"To this end, we have clear arrangements and policies in place to respond to any pupil or parent's concerns about unacceptable behaviour. It is our priority as a department to continue to work relentlessly to strive for welfare, equality and fairness for all children and young people in Gwynedd.

"Any report of racism is of great concern to us and we urge pupils and parents to discuss with the school if they are victims of such behaviour or see another pupil being targeted.

"Any discriminatory behaviour affecting students is dealt with in accordance with our conduct policy, and may result in punishments including explicit or permanent exclusion from school. Our pupils and their families know that racism is a hate crime and racist incidents can lead to Police prosecution."

They added that they have clear policies in place for any such behaviour, which can lead to temporary or permanent suspension. 

DARPL provides free anti-racist training and learning for education practitioners in Wales. 

Figures found through a Freedom of Information request to all local authorities in Wales show almost 2000 racist incidents have happened in schools since 2020. 

In 2022, the Welsh Government launched Diversity and Anti-Racism Professional Learning (DARPL) which provides free anti-racism resources and training for teachers, though it isn’t compulsory. 

Sally has criticised the government for this decision and says anti-racism training needs to be prioritised. 

“Because it’s not mandatory, of course they’re not going to do it. They’ve got enough to do day to day so if something isn’t mandatory they’re not going to do it. They need to make it mandatory because it is important”.

Molara created the Llwy Gariad group to bring her community together in Pembrokeshire.

Artist Molara Awen from Crymych in Pembrokeshire who set up the Llwy Gariad (Love Spoon) to bring Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority families together says it’s important for teachers to understand lived experiences of racism. 

“I think if they did anti-racist training, they would see the problems, but at the moment they don’t see the problems children are facing and they don’t see the problem with the culture in schools and colleges” she said.

A spokesperson from the Welsh Government said “based on the latest positive engagement statistics, there are no immediate plans to introduce a mandatory requirement” for DARPL. 

“Wales is also leading the way by becoming the first part of the UK to make it mandatory to teach Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories and experiences in the new Curriculum for Wales.”

The Welsh Government announced on Monday it has launched a programme to encourage more people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds into teaching.

The Ethnic Minority Incentive Scheme will give those eligible up to £5,000 in an attempt to create a more diverse workforce in teaching.

Watch Y Byd ar Bedwar on S4C at 8pm on Monday night.