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Norfolk schools urged to do more to tackle racism

PUBLISHED: 17:05 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:05 23 July 2020

An open letter is urging Norfolk schools to do more to tackle racism. Picture: PA Images

An open letter is urging Norfolk schools to do more to tackle racism. Picture: PA Images

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More than 500 people have signed an open letter urging Norfolk schools to do more to tackle racism and make it easier for both pupils and staff to report incidents.

Assistant head teacher Nick OBrien who has organised the open letter. Picture: Ian BurtAssistant head teacher Nick OBrien who has organised the open letter. Picture: Ian Burt

The letter urges all schools to feature “clear and unambiguous statements of acceptance and support towards BAME students and staff” in welcome back assemblies for pupils in September.

It also says every student should be taught about racism, anti-bullying and micro-aggressions over the first term, with, where possible, BAME students involved in the planning of this.

Schools should also display clear information about how to report racist incidents and commit to releasing data at least annually in relation to racist bullying, it adds.

Clive Lewis MP presenting Schools of Sanctuary award certificates to pupils from Jane Austen College. Photo: Jake BrownClive Lewis MP presenting Schools of Sanctuary award certificates to pupils from Jane Austen College. Photo: Jake Brown

MORE: Norwich School announces changes after 250 pupils sign racism letter

Organiser Nick O’Brien, an assistant head at Dereham Neatherd High School, said the open letter had already been signed by a large number of Norfolk educators and school leaders, as well as parents.

He said: “We are overwhelmed by the amount of signatures, but also with the amount of messages we have received that tell us about plans schools have in place for the new academic year.

“Going forward, we plan to form a network which works with BAME organisations to learn and deliver best practice. We will write and share case studies about our journey over the next academic year.”

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The letter comes as a response to “tensions around racism and black history” as well as the Black Lives Matters movement, which has sparked reform in schools.

Last month the Norwich School confirmed it was implementing a raft of changes, including racial prejudice being added to the curriculum and better training and support, after pupils, ex-pupils and parents complained of “everyday racism”.

MORE: Private school ‘surprised and disappointed’ at criticism of racism response

Mr O’Brien said: “Although there have been some negative stories about racism in Norfolk schools in the local and national news over the past few weeks, this could help end the academic year on a more positive note.”

The open letter has the support of Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary, Norwich Pride, the Norfolk branch of the teaching union NEU and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis.

Mr Lewis said: “I’m proud to be a signatory of this letter. I’m supporting a number of education related pledges which should help schools in Norfolk ensure all their young people feel safe, welcome and educated.”

Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary, an initiative that celebrates good practice in schools with pupils from asylum seeking and refugee families, and fosters a culture of inclusion, stated: “It’s not enough for schools to just not be racist. We need to be anti-racist.”


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