Insted - Tolerance, Equality, Difference

Tolerance, Equality, Difference

Insted - equality and diversity in education

Inservice Training and Educational Development

Race equality and racist bullying

Paper 1: A guide to this folder's contents

This paper

This paper briefly describes the contents of each of the other papers in the folder and notes the ways each can be used. Please note that all the papers are in pdf.

Paper 2: Report of a DfES conference, March 2005

In 2002-03 the DfES organised nine regional conferences for headteachers on anti-bullying. At each there were some workshops on countering racist bullying and in March 2005 the DfES followed these up with a national conference at Bristol to consider this topic in further detail. About 100 people took part. The conference contained several presentations and case-studies about good practice and there was much discussion of points arising. The conference report that was in due course compiled is about the discussions, and shows the background to this folder of papers.

Whether or not you were yourself present at the conference, you are welcome to comment. The address to write to is shown at the end of the report.

Learners' voices - memories, stories, perspectives

Papers 3-8 are all about racism in the experience of young people. It is important, in all considerations of racism, to start with the perceptions of people at the receiving end of racism - their feelings of astonishment, disbelief and shock, of threat and fear and anger, of diminished self-confidence, of their parents and friends being insulted and rejected as well as themselves, their near-despair. Also, it is crucially important to note their defiance and resistance and calm resolution not to let their experiences of racism get them down permanently.

Papers 3-8 can be used in staff discussions and also in secondary school classrooms. Questions which they raise include: Do students at our school(s) have similar experiences? How do we know? To what extent do these quotations refer to the bad old days, not to the present? What is our evidence for arguing, if we wish to, that schools nowadays are more aware of racism than in the past? What are the implications for the initial training of teachers, and for continuing professional development? What are the lessons and implications for our own anti-bullying policy and practice?

Paper 3: They used to call me names

This paper consists of extracts from a document compiled in the London Borough of Ealing in 2003, published within a resource folder entitled Preventing and Addressing Racism in Schools. Young people in the 18-22 age-range were interviewed about their experiences when they were at school. They described not only the racism they encountered from other pupils but also the insensitivity and indifference of some of their teachers and headteachers.

Paper 4: I never had the chance to explain, by Giang Vo

Giang Vo came to Britain as a refugee when still a small child. In this extract from an autobiographical sketch written when she was a young adult she recalls the hostility she encountered from other children, and her sense of being unsupported by the teachers. People treated her, she says, as if she didn't exist before she arrived in Britain and could not imagine that she had had experiences she needed to talk about, and which they for their part would have found interesting and instructive. She yearned for the time when she would be accepted as belonging, but the time never came.

Paper 5: Hostile corridors, by Nitin Sawney

The composer and musician Nitin Sawney is of Indian heritage. By and large he enjoyed his schooldays and had the good fortune to meet some inspirational teachers. But in this extract from personal reflections on British identity he recalls the casual hostility and offensiveness he encountered from other students at his secondary school, and the inability or unwillingness of most teachers to support him as he sought to make and mould his British Indian identity. The curriculum and the school's hostile corridors were for him two sides of the same coin.

Paper 6: What was there to say? by Gary Younge

The journalist Gary Younge recalls a terrifying episode when he was about ten years old. The episode didn't take place at his school. But it is a sharp reminder of experiences that black children may have when away from school and that white teachers need to be aware of. For the child if not for teachers the word 'nigger' in the playground is co-extensive, so to speak, with the same word in violence on the streets. Younge poignantly notes that he did not have adequate words for talking about the episode, and that anyway there was no-one, either at school or at home, to whom he felt he could talk about what had happened.

Paper 7: Metaphorically he was stabbing me, by Wain David Williams

Wain David Wain Williams, also known as Vocalis MC, describes an incident when he was sixteen. As in the case of Gary Younge's memory (paper 6), the incident was not at school, but it vividly recalls the kind of experience that school-age students may have. The person who made a racist remark, as described here, may not have intended to give offence. The fact remains the 16-year-old was devastated and felt he was being totally rejected and excluded, simply because of the colour of his skin.

Paper 8: My abiding memory is the racism, by Kwame Kwei-Armah

The actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah mentions a handful of memories from his primary education, all of them involving teachers rather than other children.

Whole-school policies and procedures

Papers 9-18 are essentially to do with preventing or reducing racist bullying, and with establishing an overall framework for dealing with racist incidents when they occur. They include recommendations from Ofsted, suggestions for curriculum planning, and notes on school ethos.

Paper 9: Accountability and self-evaluation - messages from Ofsted

Ofsted's thematic report Race Equality in Education, published in November 2005, discusses achievement, curriculum and community cohesion, and the ways schools deal with racist bullying and race-related incidents. This paper contains extracts from the section of the report on racist bullying. It notes that many white teachers do not feel confident with the topic and that best practice is found in schools where (a) the leadership is clear and explicit, and where (b) sound advice is provided by the local authority.

Paper 10: Towards a framework for review

This consists of 18 statements that could appear in an Ofsted report about an individual school. The statements can be used as they stand in order to conduct an audit or review of a school. Alternatively they can be turned into questions, similarly for self-evaluation, similar to those which have been suggested by the DfES in relation to anti-bullying more generally. (The charter on anti-bullying developed by the DfES, plus the questions for self-evaluation in connection with it, can be downloaded as a pdf document from").

Please suggest additions to the list in paper 1, if you would like to.

Paper 11: Racist bullying and other bullying

As mentioned in the recent Ofsted report (paper 9), many teachers are not confident when dealing with racist incidents. One of the problems is that they do not feel sufficiently clear about how racist behaviour amongst pupils differs from other kinds of unacceptable behaviour. This paper briefly summarises the features that all kinds of bullying have in common and then also lists the distinctive ways in which racist incidents are different.

Paper 12: Recording and reporting - frequently asked questions

The recent Ofsted report (paper 9) contains a convenient summary of the legal requirements about recording and reporting racist incidents in schools. Paper 12, adapted from material developed in one particular authority (London Borough of Ealing) spells out why the legal requirements came into effect and uses the device of FAQs to answer common queries and objections. It is intended for school governors and for support and administrative staff in schools as well as for teachers.

Paper 13: Rights respecting schools - an international perspective

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a convenient framework not only for curriculum planning but also for aspects of a school's ethos and organisation. Research in the UK and other countries shows that it has great potential for reducing all kinds of bullying bullying. This paper briefly describes an awards scheme currently being developed by Unicef UK and provides a web-link to substantial work on rights and responsibilities currently being carried out in Hampshire.

Paper 14: Case-studies and reports

This paper briefly describes four smallish-scale projects or activities - two primary, two secondary - relevant to countering racist bullying. One of them, incidentally (the one entitled Statues and Stories), takes place within the framework of Unicef UK's work on human rights education (paper 13). The case studies illustrate the importance of whole-school approaches to countering racist bullying and three of them stress the significance of the arts, particularly drama. In all four cases they can be used as discussion material at staff meetings and training events. What are the strengths in these projects? What weaknesses may there be? What would wish to explore further if there were a chance to questions some of the teachers responsible?

Please suggest further such reports, if you would like to.

Paper 15: A holistic approach to incidents

This paper derives from Home Office research in the 1990s. The researcher visited a number of youth clubs and services in order to identify principles underlying good practice with regard to countering racism. In her conclusions and recommendations she suggested four possible approaches - (a) ignoring (b) reprimanding (c) explaining and (d) adopting what she called a holistic approach. Ideally it is the fourth of these that should be used. The implications for schools are summarised in this paper.

Paper 16: Teaching about controversial issues

When there is direct teaching about race and racism in classrooms, for example in PSHE and citizenship lessons, it can happen that the professional tasks of fostering understanding and ensuring freedom of speech are in conflict, real or apparent, with the professional tasks of ensuring that distress is not caused to individual pupils, and that negative stereotypes are not reinforced. It is helpful, therefore, to clarify teachers' responsibilities when dealing with issues that in society at large are a matter of controversy and dispute, not settled. This paper summarises the principal points that that have appeared in guidance issued by, amongst others, the Runnymede Trust, the Citizenship Foundation and the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia.

Paper 17: Concepts across the curriculum

There is general agreement that the '3 S's' approach to developing a multicultural curriculum - saris, samosas and steel bands - is unhelpful and counter-productive. But what, at least in broad outline, is the alternative? This paper quotes from a recent DfES document in the Aiming High series and suggests six sets of key concepts that can be taught both directly and indirectly, and in all subjects, and at all key stages.

Paper 18: Classroom activities

This paper illustrates how in practice the six ideas listed in paper 17 may be explored. About 40 activities are described, clustered under the headings of the National Curriculum.

Staff training

Papers 19-23 are handouts that can be used in staff discussions and training sessions. They are to do with responding to conversational remarks from colleagues and to incidents involving learners, and with understanding various perceptions of migration, Britishness, race and history.

Paper 19: Overheard

This paper recalls the outlooks and objections that may be voiced at a training session or that participants may have heard elsewhere - not only from colleagues but also from parents and governors. As mentioned by Ofsted (paper 9), such anxieties and concerns need to be addressed explicitly, not ignored. A useful discussion activity is to consider how one would reply to each of the quoted remarks, perhaps through role-play.

Paper 20: Critical incidents

It is frequently valuable to discuss real or imaginary events. What should happen immediately, in the next few minutes? What should happen in the next few days? The next few months? What are the implications of adopting a holistic approach (paper 15) to the event described? This paper contains five short stories that are likely to stimulate valuable discussion and to act as introductions to many of the other papers in this collection.

Please suggest further such stories if you would like to.

Paper 21: Notes on incidents

This paper comments on the stories in paper 20, and links them to other papers in this resource folder. It can be used as reference material by trainers or facilitators during discussions of the stories. Instead or as well, it can act as an aide-memoire for all participants after discussions of the stories have taken place.

Paper 22: Events and perceptions over the decades

This paper contains quotations from the period 1904-2004, each from a different decade. Some are clearly racist, or about racism. Others, however, are controversial, in the sense that not all people would describe them even as objectionable, let alone as racist. One valuable and stimulating way of using them in staff training is to remove the dates and attributions and to provide them on separate slips of paper. The discussion task is then to assemble them in chronological order. Also or instead, they can be used to clarify principles for teaching about controversial issues (paper 16).

Paper 23: Developing a shared vocabulary

Discussions of race and racism are often hampered by the fact that the same word can mean different things to different people and by fears and feelings around so-called political correctness. This paper consists of pairs of words or phrases and invites discussion, with regard to each pair, of the differences in meaning and nuance between them. Such an exercise is helpful in allaying fears; in acknowledging that language in this field as in others is not fixed and certain; and in developing shared understandings.


Papers 24-27 are about sources of further information and ideas, and are respectively concerned with websites, materials for learners, a piece of recent research and a bibliography on racist bullying.

Paper 24: Useful websites

This lists about 75 websites. Some of them are about race equality issues in general. Others are specifically about countering racism and racist bullying. Some are intended primarily for children and young people.

Please suggest additions to the list if you would like to.

Paper 25: Materials for learners

This lists the websites for children and young people that are mentioned also in paper 24. In addition, it gives the titles of various non-fiction books for key stages 2 and 3.

Please suggest additions if you would like to. Also, you are invited to review, or to get children and young people to review, some of the websites and books mentioned in this paper.

Paper 26: Messages from research

This paper summarises points in The Search for Tolerance by Gerard Lemos, published in 2005. It is not an adequate alternative, incidentally, to the full report, available from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Paper 27: Bibliography

This is principally about books not articles, and about work published since 2000.

Please suggest additions if you would like to.

Top of the Page