Rise in number of pupils excluded for racist bullying in Nottinghamshire

The number of pupils being excluded from Nottinghamshire schools for racist bullying has risen in the last year.

Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 4:02 pm

However, the overall number of pupil exclusions in the county over the same period has fallen.

Department for Education (DfE) data shows Nottinghamshire's schools excluded students 66 times for racist abuse in 2018-19.

​That was up from 58 in the previous academic year.

Exclusions for racist bullying rose slightly in Nottinghamshire last year. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

All were fixed-term exclusions, also known as suspensions, where a pupil is temporarily removed.

The figures include abuse by children at state-funded primary, secondary and special schools in the area.

It was a similar picture across the rest of England, where pupils were excluded for racist bullying on 4,900 occasions last year – up from 4,300 in 2017-18.

Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate said a national rise in the number of exclusions due to racism is a concern, but that schools are clamping down on the behaviour.

Owen Jones, head of education at Hope Not Hate, said the number of additional racist abuse exclusions last year was ‘worrying’.

But he added: "From what we have seen, there is a much better concerted effort to clamp down and take it more seriously.

"The process of exclusion is fraught for everyone involved, but the tolerance for that behaviour is reducing.

"Students of colour are having more confidence to speak up.

"It's not just about the 'n' word, it's about comments made throughout the day which make students feel unwelcome."

Mr Jones said racist abuse is a particular concern in rural and coastal schools, which have mostly white student populations.

Angela Wright, education development lead at anti-hate crime charity Stop Hate UK, said targets for racist incidents are becoming increasingly younger.

She continued: "It is important to remember that behind every hate incident is an individual and family that are affected.

Overall, Nottinghamshire schools excluded pupils 5,595 times in 2018-19 – a drop of 15 per cent on the previous year.

That compared favourably with the national picture where exclusions were up by seven per cent overall.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, fears there will be further exclusions as a result of children struggling to adjust to being back at school after the coronavirus lockdown.

She said: “Excluding a child makes them more vulnerable to exploitation by criminal gangs and less likely to leave education with the qualifications they need to succeed.

A DfE spokesman said permanent exclusion should be a last resort.

He added: “We know that some pupils will return to school in September having experienced loss or adversity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which is why we have also provided guidance for school leaders on how to re-engage these pupils and create the right classroom environment to help them thrive.”