A primary school child was overheard saying they “wouldn’t want to sit next to a black man on a bus” and senior management in some schools “openly express anti-Muslim views and get away with it’.

These are just some of the many racist incidents reported by school staff in the last year to charity Show Racism the Red Card Cymru.

The abuse is detailed in a report published today from SRRC. It surveyed staff and pupils across Wales as well as asking for details under Freedom of Information requests to local authorities.

The litany of cases includes Muslim primary pupils having their hijabs pulled off, Muslim pupils having their families stereotyped as terrorists and a six year-old making a racist comment about a member of staff from Croatia. In another incident pupils Nazi saluted a German-born pupil in the first year of high school.

The 50-page report goes on to warn: “Anti-Semitism is now being detected in schools with anti-Muslim prejudice remaining and significant negative attitudes to Christianity also being recorded.”

One in four teachers and teaching assistants told Show Racism the Red Card Cymru they had come across a racist incident at their school in Wales in the last 12 months.

Information obtained by the charity through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, also show that during the 2018/19 school academic year, there was a 19% increase in school exclusions related to racism compared to the previous period (2017/18) and there were also two permanent exclusions recorded.

Mona Wadah, 10
Mona Wadah, 10

The project also included consultation with more than 1,000 teachers and teaching assistants which highlighted a lack of confidence, training and support for tackling racism.

Publishing the report Racism in Wales?  Exploring Prejudice in The Welsh Education System Sunil Patel from SRRC Cymru warned the situation has got worse in recent years and nothing has improved since the charity’s last report into racism in schools in Wales in 2016.

“As part of our consultation, 77% of pupils told us that racism existed in their schools and 30% admitted to having used racist language in school,” he said.

“The racist incidents that are occurring are having a huge impact on many young people across Wales in terms of their well-being and academic attainment.

“It’s concerning that not even 50% of local authorities are recording the number of racist incidents in schools and therefore, are very likely not aware of the true scale of the problem.”

Teachers and teaching assistants told the consultation their schools do not always take action.

One reported: “Some incidents are not always taken as far as I feel they should, repeat offenders are not dealt with severely enough” while another said: “senior management openly express anti-Muslim views and get away with it’.

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Among other incidents reported to SRRC included a year eight high school pupil calling a classmate the ‘n’ word because of his skin colour and a traveller being labelled a “Gypsy”.

Responding to the report First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Racism will not be tolerated in Wales.

“Our children and young people go to school to learn, grow, and make friends, not to deal with discrimination in the playground or classroom.

“I want to thank Show Racism The Red Card for producing this report. We will look at this closely and we will continue to support schools and local authorities to create healthy environments where all children and young people can flourish.”

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin

Courtney said “What this report finds is a positive appetite among teachers for training and professional discussions about how to understand what causes racism and how education must respond.

“But the report also shows us the practical barriers - a lack of confidence and the time  pressure on schools which hamper efforts to make progress. Schools need more support to build capacity to challenge the racist ideas and stereotypes that harm and threaten black students’ life chances and their self-esteem.”