Racism rears its ugly head

25th November 2005 at 00:00
Q: One of my pupils, who is 14 and of lower than average ability, has produced a piece of creative writing which I believe to be offensive, with underlying racial stereotyping. I don't feel I can let this go without saying something. What is the best action to take? Should I tell senior management?

A: Your school will have an equal opportunities policy; work within its provisions. Your pupil may have written this piece with the deliberate intention of causing offence; equally, he or she may have written it out of pure ignorance, without realising that it could be offensive. In either case, it's your job as a teacher to help the pupil move on. Racist incidents cannot be ignored.

Talk to your immediate line manager or your NQT mentor to register your concerns, to clarify the issues and to ensure that the action you take will be effective. Then discuss it with senior management. Racism is a whole-school issue.

Do not confront the pupil on your own. You need support, and the pupil needs to know that what has happened is offensive to the whole school community. It's too important an issue to make it personal.

* We're happy to answer your problems about any aspect of your NQT year. Unfortunately, our experts cannot enter into personal correspondence with readers but will treat all your enquiries in the strictest confidence.

Please email any questions you have to: nqtextra@tes.co.uk

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