Since the announcement of Brexit, there has been a considerable increase in reports of racism, hate crime and racist incidents across the United Kingdom. These types of incidents have largely been random and directed at anyone perceived to be “not British”.
Perhaps most worrying though is a lot of teachers have also reported seeing a rise in the number of children experiencing racist incidents in the classroom. Police figures show reports of hate crimes and incidents in schools rose by 89 percent in the middle of the Brexit campaign.
This has led to calls by many for more to be done, not only in terms of helping teachers know how to better cope and deal with these types of incidents, but also for children to have more of an education and understanding of racism along with Britain’s multicultural heritage.
A recent survey of teachers into the issue highlighted a “lack of confidence, training and support” in this area. Teachers questioned were in “overwhelming agreement” that anti-racist education should be integrated into the curriculum – with 90 percent of teachers strongly believing this was the way forward.
I’ve been trying to do this for years – I think it is of the utmost importance. However, staff mostly avoid conversations about race and religion for fear of opening a can of worms.
The Scottish government has been looking further into this issue. Researchers from the Moray House School of Education in Edinburgh recently provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee. And they called for “race” to be put “explicitly back on the agenda” in schools so that racist views could be challenged in the classroom.
They said teachers were currently “reluctant and anxious” about addressing racism in the classroom and called for updated advice to be provided. They also spoke of the need to have a better way of recording incidents of racist bullying and harassment in schools.