Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Pupils and teachers 'show racism'

Racism is still an issue in England's schools, research suggests

Racism is still an issue in England's schools, with pupils and teachers showing racist behaviour, research suggests.

More than four-fifths (83%) of teachers questioned said they had witnessed racist attitudes or behaviour amongst their students.

This included name calling, comments, jokes and stereotyping of different races.

These attitudes were not restricted to pupils, as almost a third of those questioned (31%) said they had seen similar behaviour amongst teachers. In some cases, they used racist terminology, or had lower expectations of ethnic minority pupils.

Some interviewees had come across "teachers with racist attitudes, for example those who were dismissive of the Asian pupils due to perceived language issues".

The study, by anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, supported by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), is based on a survey of 148 teachers, plus interviews, pupil observations and a research journal. It aims to investigate the issues of racism and inequality in the education system.

More than a third (39%) of those questioned said they had not received any training in tackling racism. The vast majority of teachers surveyed (93%) said that if they saw a racist incident they would feel that they could report it.

But it adds: "There was evidence of a lack of action against racist attitudes and behaviour and a lack of understanding of the mechanisms and reasons for reporting racist incidents. The research highlighted a reluctance to report incidents which were considered a first offence or where it was felt that the racism was unintentional."

It calls for teachers to be given training in tackling racism, and for pupils to be given the chance to express their views and learn about ethnicity and diversity.

Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said: "The research highlights that there is a huge gap in the current teacher training provision when it comes to preparing teachers to tackle racism and embed equality. Teachers need to be empowered with skills and knowledge in order to be better equipped to deal with these issues in schools."

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