Hertfordshire: Rise in racist bullying in schools with nearly 150 exclusions

Racist abuse is on the rise in Herts schools. Picture: PA

Racist abuse is on the rise in Herts schools. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Schools in Hertfordshire excluded pupils for racist bullying on nearly 150 occasions last year, new figures reveal.

Department for Education data shows Hertfordshire’s schools excluded students 147 times for racist abuse in 2018-19 – up from 134 in the previous academic year.

All were fixed-term exclusions, or suspensions, where a pupil is temporarily removed from a school. The figures include racist abuse from children at state primary, secondary and special schools in the area.

Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate have also reported a national spike in the number of school exclusions due to racism. British pupils were excluded for racist bullying on 4,900 occasions last year – a record high.

Owen Jones, head of education at Hope Not Hate, said the number of additional racist abuse exclusions last year was “very worrying”. However, he added: “From what we have seen, there is a much better concerted effort to clamp down and take it more seriously. The process of exclusion is fraught for everyone involved, but the tolerance for that behaviour is reducing.

“Students of colour are having more confidence to speak up. It’s not just about the ‘n’ word, it’s about comments made throughout the day which make students feel unwelcome.”

Overall, Hertfordshire schools excluded pupils 8,089 times in 2018-19 – equivalent to 156 exclusions every week. This was an increase of 4 per cent on the previous year, when they handed out 7,782 exclusions.

Most Read

The rise in total exclusions in Hertfordshire reflects the trend across England, where the figure rose by 7 per cent to 446,000.

However, Angela Wright, education development lead at anti-hate crime charity Stop Hate UK, said the charity has seen a desire among students to “make a change and call out racism”, following the death of black American George Floyd while in police custody in May.

Amid fears that the new school year could see a further rise in incidents, a Department of Education spokesperson said: “We know that some pupils will return to school in September having experienced loss or adversity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which is why we have also provided guidance for school leaders on how to re-engage these pupils and create the right classroom environment to help them thrive.”