Schools 'in denial' on racist bullying

MANY SCHOOLS in Wales are in denial about racial bullying and too many are still not taking race equality seriously enough, says the director of the Commission for Racial Equality in Wales.

Speaking last Thursday at the annual forum of Cyfanfyd, which promotes the education of sustainable development and global citizenship (ESDGC) in Wales, Chris Myant said he was worried about schools that have decided race equality is "not a priority".

He told the conference at the National Botanic Garden in Carmarthenshire that, while there is excellent work going on in some schools, others are scared to tackle race equality issues. Mr Myant said some teachers lack the confidence.

He called for more schools to ensure all incidents are recorded and challenged, saying: "Schools are in denial about racial bullying and are not carrying out the basic kind of work that they should."

He wants to see a Wales-wide review to find out how many have race equality policies in place - and are using them. "We need to get everyone to value it," he said.

Several schools and colleges were praised for their work in promoting ESDGC. St Anne's school in Wrexham, which was one of the winners of Cyfanfyd's Global Learning Awards, was commended for its work in bringing communities together on the Caia Park Estate, which was at the centre of bitter racial conflicts two years ago.

Of the 150 pupils at the school, 25 per cent are from the Traveller communities and 20 per cent speak English as an additional language. But St Anne's has embraced its cultural diversity.

"We celebrate cultures rather than see differences," said head Rachel Molyneux.

The school's One World - Our World project includes a board of pupils'

hands, a family tree and a global food-tasting event.

Ms Molyneux said: "The children are buzzing with excitement. Our little world here has become more aware."

Vipin Chauan, a visiting lecturer at De Montford university in Leicester and an expert in Black and Southern Perspectives in Education, said: "We can't expect one individual to take on the battle in their school or institution."

The government published its ESDGC strategy last September. The department for education, lifelong learning and skills has made a committment in its Equality Annual Report 2007-8 to work with the Commission for Racial Equality and Estyn to develop a survey mechanism for schools in Wales to see whether they have suitable policies.

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