Exclusions for racism in primary schools up more than 40%

Tuesday 07th January 2020 17:35 EST

Primary-school exclusions for racism in England are up more than 40% in just over a decade with the biggest rise in the North West, official figures show. BBC News analysis of the figures showed:

- 496 temporary exclusions for racism from primary schools in the academic year 2017-18

- a rise of 40% on 2006-07, when there were 350 exclusions

- in the North West there were 36 temporary exclusions in 2006-07, compared with 76 in 2017-18

- the number of exclusions for racism across all schools in England has fallen over the same period

"This is about it being OK to be different," John Au tells a special assembly at Lawrence Community Primary School, in Liverpool.

He works for the Anthony Walker Foundation, set up after the Huyton teenager's racially motivated murder, in 2005, to campaign for diversity and inclusion.

The school contacted the charity after staff overheard worrying conversations between pupils.

"It was things like, 'Go back to your own country,' because a lot of the children come from different countries," deputy head Lisa Flanagan says.

"We also heard children talking about the colour of someone's skin. In some instances, pupils were refusing to learn about another religion because they thought they would be betraying their own beliefs."

Dr Zubaida Haque, deputy director of race-equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, says racism in schools reflects attitudes outside the classroom.

"So if we have an increase in hate crime in society, an increase of bigotry or there's bullying going on outside of school, racism in papers and in a politician's narrative, children will pick that up very quickly. And that's what is happening. We have to understand, schools are a microcosm of society"

John Au says his organisation has been receiving an increasing number of requests from schools for help. "Racism and discrimination is a problem that affects the whole of society. It doesn't matter how old we are," Mr Au says.

"Schools should be praised for identifying problems. We have to give them credit for that. When teachers spot things early, it stops them from escalating into something else."

In a statement Nai'm's primary school said: "The school prides itself in being an inclusive school and will continue to challenge all forms of racism. We strongly believe in educating our pupils by teaching them right from wrong, so that they are able to live in harmony with other people regardless of our differences. We want children to accept each other and celebrate our diverse school community.”

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