The Big Question: Do schools need training on how to deal with racist bullying?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

This week’s question: Do schools need training on how to deal with racist bullying?

A new survey shows that nearly 64 per cent of primary and secondary school teachers are aware that racist bullying is a problem in schools.

The survey, by Teachers TV, also indicated that 45 per cent of teachers polled believe that racist incidents are increasingly linked to religious intolerance. Nearly 3 per cent had witnessed racist bullying by teachers to pupils.

Lack of guidance on how to deal with such incidents seemed to be a common problem with nearly 70 per cent of teachers stating that their schools did not have a strategy to combat racial prejudice. By law, all schools must have a race equality policy but there are concerns and inconsistency around content and how these are implemented.

More than a third of teachers called for more training to help them to deal with the issue.

Do schools need training on how to deal with racist bullying?

Here are some thoughts from the education community:

“I think they would certainly need some training: after all I am not sure how I would deal with this and I have plenty of experience in teaching, so it could be a really awkward situation for a newly qualified teacher.

“Some head teachers make it clear to their staff how these incidents should be recorded and will act swiftly but there isn’t always a consistent approach from school to school. Unions should be involved in the training as well. “
Susan Coles, arts, creativity and educational consultant, in Tyne and Wear

“Surely, rather than training schools to deal with incidents of racist bullying, the government should put money into educating parents to prevent their children from becoming racist bullies. How many times have you heard of a child being disciplined at school for an incident, only to be told that the parents didn’t follow through with the consequence? Sometimes, parents even approve of their child’s behaviour!
“Nowadays, many of the issues we deal with in school are problems created by the society we live in, shared through generations of families who have a ‘can’t do, don’t care’ attitude. Sadly, they are often not interested in the effect of their behaviour on others.”
Lucy Shah, primary school teacher, in Manchester

“I’m lucky enough to be at a school where racist bullying is not an issue, or at least there is nothing happening I’m aware of. We have a healthy mixture of nationalities both in students and in staff, and a very supportive environment where certain behaviour will not be accepted.
“However, with the current political climate being of course reflected in schools, I do think there needs to be training and a common understanding and approach in each school to tackle any incident.”
Ute Bretschneider, German Teacher, Watford Grammar School for Girls

For further information read this week’s TES story:
Racist bullying rife in schools, says poll

Please share your views below

Previous big questions:
Will you explore your existing powers to manage behaviour?
Why are teachers shunning citizenship training?
Is £10,000 the answer to teacher retention?
Should skills tests for trainee teachers be scrapped?
What can teachers tell architects about school design?
Should trainee teachers spend more time with special needs children?