Rise in primary school pupils suspended for racist abuse

Department for Education figures show number of exclusions for racist behaviour up by a third in five years

The number of primary school pupils suspended for racist abuse has increased by a third in five years, official figures show.

Department for Education statistics reveal that 430 children between the ages of five and 11 were given fixed period or permanent exclusions from their schools in the 2014-15 academic year because of racist behaviour. That is 110 more than in the 2009-10 academic year, when 320 pupils were suspended for the same reason.

Meanwhile, the number of primary school pupils suspended for drug and alcohol abuse fell by 20% in the same period, from 50 to 40. The number of pupils suspended for sexual misconduct also fell slightly, by 4%, from 250 to 240.

The figures show that the overall number of primary school pupils being handed suspensions has increased by 34% from 2010 to 2015, from 37,830 to 50,570.

This year, the Sun reported that a year one pupil – no older that six – from Tameside, Greater Manchester, was suspended for racist behaviour.

The DfE said schools were safe places and that racist incidents were very rare, with just one child in every 6,700 being suspended last year. A source from the department also said the numbers only showed that teachers were reporting more racist incidents, not necessarily that there had been more incidents.

“It’s right, however, that any racist behaviour or sexual incidents are taken very seriously and that’s why we have taken decisive action to put teachers back in charge of the classroom by giving them the powers they need to tackle poor behaviour and discipline,” said a spokeswoman.

“All schools must promote the fundamental British values of mutual respect and tolerance for all and they are required by law to have measures in place to prevent bullying – including racist bullying. Primary schools can also teach sex education in an age-appropriate way.”

Kevin Courtney, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has previously blamed cuts to local authority budgets for adversely affecting the ability of teachers to deal with particularly difficult pupils.

DfE guidance recommends that teachers report bullying that constitutes a hate crime to the police. All schools are given a resource pack by the Crown Prosecution Service, which provides advice on addressing hate crime, including racist and homophobic offences.


Frances Perraudin

The GuardianTramp

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