Leeds in league of shame for racist school bullying

Yorkshire's exam performance falls below the rest of the country
Yorkshire's exam performance falls below the rest of the country
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LEEDS emerged today as a hotspot for racist incidents in schools over the last five years.

The city was second, behind Birmingham, in a league table of cases of racist bullying, including verbal and physical attacks.

Nationwide, 87,915 cases were recorded by local authorities, following reports from schools, between 2007 and 2011.

An incident is considered racist if the victim or any other person considers it to be so.

The figures show that during this time there were 4,690 insidents reported in Leeds and 5,752 in Birmingham.

At the other end of the scale, Carmarthenshire recorded just five cases.

The Department for Education (DfE) said there was no room in modern society for racism, and that schools have powers to deal with abusive pupils.

The impact of racial abuse can be “devastating”, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said, adding that the figures were “hugely disappointing”.

Under the previous Labour government, schools in England and Wales had an obligation to monitor and report incidents of racist abuse to their local council.

The coalition Government has scrapped this requirement, and schools no longer need to record cases.

Instead, schools are expected to have a “consistent” approach to monitoring bullying. For some this will mean recorded incidents, while others will not keep written records, the DfE said.

The new figures show in 2010 the numbers of recorded racist incidents in schools in England, Wales and Scotland rose to 23,971, up 1,686 from 22,285.

And in 2010/11, when rules on reporting incidents were changed, this number fell to 18,996.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “The impact of racial abuse can be devastating. Schools need to remain places of optimism and belonging for every student.

“We urge our members to go beyond recording, reporting and compliance, to really focus on the culture and ethos of the school and its community to tackle incidents of racial abuse head on.

“It’s hugely disappointing to hear the figure of 88,000 recorded racist incidents in our schools.”

Mr Hobby added that figures produced in 2007 suggested that the numbers appeared to be falling, but added that the statistics are still “way too high”.

A DfE spokesman said: “There is no room in civilised, modern society for racism. Schools have tough powers to crackdown on abusive and badly behaved pupils - as well as clear responsibility to teach tolerance and respect for others.

“Heads and teachers are professional enough never to be complacent in dealing with this issue - parents and pupils expect them to remain vigilant and step in to prevent it whenever it occurs.”