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
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
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.
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 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.