British schools annually deal with over 40,000 `racism cases’

Most of the ‘racist incidents’ are just kids falling out: report

30th October 2009:
British schools have to face or deal with more than 40,000 cases of racism every year. But most of these ‘racist incidents’ are just kids falling out.

The revelation comes  in a report published by a civil liberties group, the Manifesto Club. The report’s author Adrian Hart says the schools are obliged to monitor and report all racist incidents to their local authority.

The obligation on schools to report these incidents wastes teachers’ time, interferes in children’s space in the playground, and undermines teachers’ ability to deal with problems in their classrooms.
To make the matters worse, such anti-racist policies can create divisions where none had existed, by turning everyday playground spats into ‘race issues’.

With the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, it is a duty on public bodies to eliminate discrimination. The schools have been told they are to monitor the impact of their policies on the educational attainment of pupils of different races.

The Government placed them under a duty in 2002 to monitor and report all racist incidents to their local authority.

Special forms were created that require teachers to name the alleged perpetrator and victim, and spell out what they did and how they were punished. Schools can keep details on file.

Hart told The Telegraph that there were a small number of cases of sustained targeted bullying, and schools certainly need to deal with those. But a substantial number of these incidents involved just disagreements. They don’t need re-educating out of their prejudice – they and their teachers need to be left alone.

As of now, primary school pupils, even the toddlers in nurseries are being punished for making racist insults; and the teachers are being treated like counter staff in police stations as they have to fill in forms detailing name-calling and jokes.

Deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Martin Ward says any racist incident in schools should be dealt with swiftly, but the definition of racism can be taken too far, especially with young children who clearly don’t understand the connotation behind the words.

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