Tackling Racism in Schools

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2008 National Black Members' Conference
15 September 2007

Conference notes that education at all ages is essential to empower ourselves and challenge racism in society. In most cases school is the first introduction to formal education.

The government has revealed that the number of pupils excluded on the grounds of racist bullying rose by 29% between 2004 and 2005. There are concerns that schools won’t report racist abuse to the authorities fearing their reputation will be damaged. Racial harassment figures generally show that incidents are under-reported.

These findings come after research found that African-Caribbean boys are three times more likely to be permanently excluded from school, and likely to be punished more severely than white children for similar misdemeanours.

The study also found that Black children are five times less likely to be considered ‘gifted or talented’ compared to white children, and two-thirds of African-Caribbean pupils leave school without five GCSEs at grade A-C.

This research concludes that institutional racism is rife in the British school system, but government ministers often refuse to accept the extent of the negative effect on Black children’s learning outcomes.

Conference instructs the National Black Members’ Committee (NBMC) to work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to:

1.Lobby the UK Government, Welsh Assembly, N Ireland Executive and Scottish Government to recognise that institutional racism is a reality for Black school children and take steps to address it;

2.Lobby the Schools Inspectorate to include race equality impact assessment in school inspections;

3.Demand compulsory race equality education in school citizenship classes and other opportunities;

4.Run a campaign to recruit more Black school governors and Parent-Teacher Association members from among UNISON’s Black members.