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The shame of racism in our schools.

Byline: By LUCY LYNCH Education reporter

CHILDREN and teenagers in Coventry have to endure racist taunting, name-calling and sometimes even racist violence at school says a shock report.

The city's 116 primary, secondary and special schools reported a total of 79 racist incidents on their premises in the last school year.

Coventry City Council's education bosses discussed the matter at a children's services cabinet meeting.

The most recent figures show that in the school year ending in July there were 22 racist incidents involving violence and 57 incidents of racist name-calling - however that is a big drop on last year's total of 144.

But there are fears that the figures are not giving the true picture.

Cllr John Blundell (Con, Wainbody), cabinet member for children's services, fears that different schools have different ideas about what counts as a racist incident and what doesn't.

Cllr Ann Lucas (Lab, Holbrook) is also concerned. She said: "I have heard that schools were loath to report racist incidents. At least at the start (of collecting annual figures) they were not keen and tended to describe incidents as bullying."

Head of services for schools Ruth Snow said: "The reporting is patchy and we have much more work to do."

A report about the issue written by city council education staff says that children on the receiving end of racism from their classmates are often already struggling with other difficulties such as poor housing, unemployed parents and learning English as a second language. Children who have arrived in Coventry seeking asylum from war-torn countries are particularly at risk.

Schools have a legal responsibility to keep a tally of racist incidents on the premises, whether it is playground name-calling or a full-blown fight.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Dec 16, 2004
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