Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

16. Letter dated 25 January 2005, from Slough Borough Council, to Fiona Mactaggart, MP

  Thank you for sending me the evidence given by Jagdeesh Singh to the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee enquiry into Terrorism and Community Relations. I was concerned that his answer to question 155 in particular is misleading.

  Slough Borough Council does have a policy on recording and reporting racist incidents in schools. These are collated centrally. A report for last year was prepared and sent to the Director, the Senior Management Team of the Department and to all Headteachers and to Chairs of Governors for their meeting with the Director. A copy of last year's report is enclosed.

  This report was also sent to all members of the Minority Ethnic Consultative Group and discussed at their meeting on 8 July 2004. A copy of the minutes of MECG is enclosed. Mr Jagdeesh Singh was a member of this group though he did not attend the July meeting, we believe he was sent a copy of the report. He has not attended the following meeting on 10 November 2004 either. Perhaps he was only included previously as a representative from SREC.

  The system of collecting and reporting racist incidents in schools has been in place and it happened as a direct result of the Macpherson Report. All Headteachers and community groups were consulted. Slough Race Equality Council made several useful suggestions on the proposals. I am surprised at Mr Jagdeesh Singh's evidence, as he was aware of this system, as he was part of SREC. Jayant Tanna has also made a presentation to a meeting of Slough Against Racist Attacks which was serviced by Jagdeesh Singh.

  As you know the council does work closely with the Police to promote cohesion and to respond sensitively when there is raised community tension. The Aik Saath Project is, I know well known to you. More recently we have been working with Slough Community Relations Project (SCRP) which is concerned about promoting inter racial harmony. We have also started work in Slough and Eton School on Community Cohesion addressing the issue of inter racial violence in particular. The project involves 30 pupils from Beechwood and Slough and Eton Schools.

  I am not sure whether you think it is possible, or if we should try to correct the misleading impression given during the evidence. Please advise me if you think we should if not, at least this sets the record straight.

Cheryl Coppell

Chief Executive



  In line with the statutory duty to promote race equality the LEA sent guidelines to all Headteachers and Chair of Governors on the recording and reporting of racist incidents in June 2002. The guidance was based on the code of practice published by the Home Office Racist Incidents Standing Committee. There was a particular need to ensure that confidentiality within the monitoring system was preserved and that any report published would be on the basis of the situation in Slough as a whole, not individually in any one school. The procedures were widely consulted upon and agreed by representatives of Headteachers, Governors, Slough Race Equality Council and Community Groups.

  Since September 2002, Learning and Cultural Services has maintained a central register of racial incidents which occur in schools. Each school deals with racist incidents as they occur, records them and sends a copy to the LEA. The 2002-03 was the first year that these statistics were collected at the LEA level. The quality of information received was good in many cases but was incomplete in many others. In some, the recording of victim's ethnicity contradicted the details in the text. However, the information collected gives a reasonably accurate picture of the situation overall.

  In 2002-03 racist incidents were reported by 18 schools (13 primary and five secondary) and only three schools failed to make a return. 27 out of 48 schools made a nil return indicating there were no racist incidents in those schools during the year.

  The total number of reported incidents was 66. Of these 47 occurred in the 13 primary schools and 19 in the five secondary schools. Of this total of 66 racist incidents, 18 took place in schools in the west area, 23 in Central Slough and 25 in East Slough. It will be useful to make comparisons with other Slough data on racist incidents collected by organisations like the Police and the Slough Race Equality Council.

  The location of incidents made interesting reading. A surprising third of the incidents took place during lessons, some in PE lessons. The vast majority of the other incidents took place during the lunch break, or before or after school, which is the experience in most other LEA's as well.

  The vast majority of the incidents were concerned about derogatory name calling, or ridiculing cultural differences. There was a much smaller number of incidents concerned with offensive and racist comments, vicious or threatening behaviour or abuse of personal property. Most of the Black victims were called names because of their colour or hair. Most Sikh pupils were ridiculed about their knotted hair or turban. Most Pakistani pupils were called "Paki" or in one or two cases because they wore a headscarf or hijab.

  There was no recognisable pattern or link with any major national or international events eg 11 September 2002.

  Of the 66 incidents, 22 were directed towards Black pupils (33%). Pakistani pupils were the victims in 16 incidents (24%), Indian in 10 (15%) and White in nine cases (14%). However, since Black pupils make up only 5.6% of the total school population, they suffered a greater degree of abuse. Another significant issue was that minority ethnic teachers were also victims of abuse from mainly white pupils and parents.

  In 39 out of the 66 incidents (59%), the perpetrators were White pupils. Indian, Black and Pakistani pupils were the perpetrators in 11, eight and seven cases respectively. The White group of perpetrators occasionally included White parents who made racist remarks.

  The largest group of perpetrators was White (59%) and the largest group of victims was Black (33%). In terms of gender there was a clear divide. Most of the victims (62%) and perpetrators (85%) are boys.

  The charts (not printed) show graphically the other information highlighted above. They also indicate the nature and types of incidents and the action taken to support the victim and the perpetrator.

  The commitment and dedication to reduce and eliminate racist incidents shown by many of our schools is commendable. The good practice needs to spread to all schools. However, schools themselves need considerable support from parents, governors and the local community to enable them to prepare our children for life in a pluralistic multi ethnic Britain. The LEA wishes to improve the situations and seeks the views and suggestions of schools, governors and the local community. The LEA also wishes to consult on how best to deliver training on identifying, recording and reporting racist incidents.

  Governing bodies are requested to:

    —    Check that racist incidents are recorded and reported to the LEA as provided in the guidelines.

    —    Receive reports on the situation in their own schools, and seek more detailed reports of any incident giving rise to particular concerns.

    —    Monitor the support given to victims and abusers.

    —    Give their suggestions to improve the situation in their schools and across Slough in terms of training, recording and reporting.

    —    Consider what further support and guidance the LEA could provide through strategic action, guidance, training or advice.

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