Racism in Essex schools (1/05/2021)

Former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has called for data on racist incidents in schools to be collected. Shockingly, such data doesn’t have to be routinely collected. Incidents of racism in schools are increasing in the UK, and last year, Essex was almost top of the league. Racism is on the rise. What can be done?
Show Racism the Red Card is an organisation that works with schools to tackle racism. They recommend, in their report on School Exclusions in Wales, that four measures are introduced, and these recommendations seem sensible, namely:

  • Schools should be effectively monitored to ensure that they are consistently recording and reporting racist incidents and acting upon this information.
  • There should be a duty placed on schools to report this data to the local authority.
  • An annual statistical bulletin providing the sort of data Show Racism the Red Card currently has to acquire via FOI requests.
  • Additional training and resources should be provided for schools to ensure all individuals are comfortable in developing an antiracism ethos throughout the education system.

The teaching profession are heroes (my late mother was a teacher!), and our local schools have done a fantastic job helping our children during the pandemic in difficult circumstances. Yet, nevertheless these racism stats are worrying, and they reflect a lack of national action on racism from the UK Government. If data isn’t collected consistently, how will Local Authorities and schools know the extent of the issue, and how to stop it?
Currently, it’s unclear what is being done. As Anne Longfield says, “the inconsistent approach is potentially putting children of colour at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives.” I’d echo Ms Longfield’s request that the UK government develop consistent education policies to stop racism, together with a focus on helping excluded children. The Government needs to urgently look at the issues raised by Anne Longfield.
Racism hurts, and can hinder academic performance and life chances. Despite having good friendships and supportive teachers, I was singled out by racist bullies. No child should have to experience racism. There is a need for action and leadership, to stop racism in schools.

Samantha Naik