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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Number of racist incidents reported in Kent schools is on the rise

THE number of racist incidents reported in Kent schools is rising, the Courier can reveal.

Figures obtained by the Courier show in 2010/11 there were 929 racist incidents reported at state schools across the county, compared to 874 the previous year. This included 414 reports from primary schools.

Mascalls School, in Paddock Wood, recorded the second highest number of incidents in the county, with 25 in 2010/11, 24 more than the year before.

Mark Waller, who retired as deputy head after 22 years at Mascalls on Friday, last week, said the school has a "zero-tolerance" policy towards racism. "This means staff record and follow up every instance," he said.

"We are aware this tends to mean that the number of recorded instances is artificially high, but we believe it is right to maintain a high level of vigilance with regard to this important issue.

"For example, if a student is heard referring to the traveller community using an offensive term, we will treat that as a racist remark and the offending student may expect a robust response and the offence to be recorded.

"As a result we find that most students become very aware of racist issues and it is not in any way a problem in the school."

Elsewhere in the borough Skinners' Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells had 25 incidents across the two years.

However, principal Sian Carr insisted the 2011/12 academic year had seen zero incidents and that previous figures reflected "the situation inherited from the predecessor school".

She said: "Our robust behaviour policies ensure unacceptable behaviour of any kind is taken seriously and rigorously dealt with."

In total there were 122 incidents recorded in Tunbridge Wells schools over the last two years.

Incidents in the borough of Tonbridge and Malling increased from 51 to 60, while Edenbridge Primary School recorded 25 incidents in two years.

Name calling and verbal abuse were the two most common categories of racism logged in primary, secondary, special and Pupil Referral Units, for children who cannot attend mainstream schools.

In 2009/10 there were 135 more incidents in primary than secondary schools, but this changed the following year when there were 37 more in secondary.

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