25 May 2012
A BBC investigation has found more than eighty thousand racist incidents were recorded in schools in England, Wales and Scotland over the last four years.
Click to hear the report
At first glance the headline figure is shocking. The numbers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act included responses from 90 local authorities. It suggests that despite years of improved racism awareness the problem is far from beaten.
14-year-old Khadeja Fahat a Muslim pupil at a school in Cheshire in the north west of England endured regular bouts of Islamophobic abuse and her education suffered. She was eventually forced to change schools.
But whilst expressing their abhorrence at such stories, some anti-racism campaigners have argued that the statistics may reflect increased awareness of the problem in schools and a preparedness to tackle it rather than a simple increase.
Yet other teachers say the figures may be an underestimate as many verbal incidents are simply dealt with immediately and never get reported at all. One anti-racism charity says there has been a growth in racist bullying towards Muslims students, and those from Roma, Gypsy and travelling communities.
But the Government has now dropped the requirement on all local authorities to report such incidents arguing the exercise is bureaucratic and that schools are best placed to decide how to tackle racism. But the question remains if the statistics are incomplete how will anyone know if progress is being made or indeed if more radical action is needed?
Click to hear the vocabulary
unpleasant short periods
hatred or fear of muslims
feeling of strong hatred
- to tackle it
to deal with the problem
- verbal incidents
occurrences of using offensive language
legal obligation/ necessity
involving complicated and unnecessary rules
- radical action
extreme or different ideas