Rosanna Rackley, who teaches in a number of secondaries in Birmingham, has witnessed a rise in the number of students making racist remarks to their teachers and their peers in the past year.
“I have definitely seen a difference and it did really kick off in 2016,” the supply teacher says. “Students are comfortable saying racist and hateful things against staff, and they wouldn’t have necessarily been so brave in the past.
“People have been given permission to be racist or homophobic because world leaders are doing it. Verbal abuse is just the tip of the iceberg and if they get away with it, then it escalates.”
She says that pupils at one Birmingham secondary had called a teacher who wore a hijab “Isis” to her face. But the victim had chosen not to report it to the school’s senior management team.
“It is very hurtful,” Rackley says. “It upsets her but also she realises that these kids have obviously heard something on the media or their parents have been saying something.”
Rackley has also seen Eastern European children being mocked by other pupils in school. “Students in ethnic minorities have found themselves actually feeling scared,” she adds.
The supply teacher, who also teaches RS, adds: “Sometimes they will come out with things that are very unsavoury and it is a challenge as a teacher not to get upset.”
Rackley says that she doesn’t think schools are currently doing enough to address the issue: “It is a whole-school endeavour. It shouldn’t just be taught in PSHE. It should be covered in almost any lesson.”