Polish influx triggersa wave of bullying

17th November 2006 at 00:00
An influx of Polish pupils enrolling at British schools is fuelling a rise in xenophobic bullying, according to one teachers' union.

Tormenting EU immigrants was deemed acceptable "as it is perceived as having no relation to racism", Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, told a conference on Monday.

It is thought that media scare stories - such as The Sun's "Polish builders nicked my flat" - have whipped up anti-Polish feeling.

Alexandra Podhorodecka, of the Polish Education Society, said: "In the worst cases we see pupils bullied, extremely unhappy, and developing discipline problems, whereas in Poland they may have been high achievers.

"They are made fun of because of their lack of English and also because they are unused to a multicultural society and may appear racist. But they aren't racist, just unfamiliar with the situation."

She added that schools could help by using Polish signs and developing links with local Polish Saturday schools.

John Hughes, head of Victoria junior in Wrexham, said local authority support was important.

"We get language resources from the LEA and have a Polish teacher who comes in and works with students," he said.

The Home Office has announced pound;400,000 funding to improve Eastern European children's English. About 80,000 Eastern Europeans arrived in Britain in 2005. This year, 11,000 enrolled in British schools.

Dr Jan Mokrzycki, president of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, was confident that pupils would be accepted given time.

"I came to this country with no English, but once I had improved my language skills I became one of the lads," he said.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now