Nine-year-old among pupils excluded for racist abuse

Sutton Guardian: Kingston Racial Equality Council chairman John Azah Kingston Racial Equality Council chairman John Azah

Pupils as young as nine have been excluded from schools in Kingston for racist abuse, a Surrey Comet investigation has revealed.

The primary school pupil is among 14 youngsters in the borough suspended from school in the last year.

The nine-year-old, who is said to be white British, was given a half-day suspension for the offence which includes physical attacks and derogatory name calling and racist jokes.

Kingston Council, who looks after schools in the borough, said the exclusion was for using racist language but could not reveal further information due to data protection laws.

The shocking stats also revealed a 12-year-old white British girl was excluded from school last year for two days for using racist language toward another student.

Exclusions for racist abuse are on the increase in the borough with five more incidents reported than in 2010 and nine more than in 2009.

Tory education spokes-woman Andrea Craig said she was alarmed by the stats and plans to investigative further.

She said: “Children do not pick these things up on their own, it comes from somewhere else, either parents or outside influences.

“For a child to be excluded it must be something quite particularly if that child is just nine years old.

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“It is something that must be looked at, it must be scrutinised, we are lucky to live in a tolerant borough but that does not mean we can be complacent. It must be stamped out.”

A spokesman for Kingston Council said they have procedures in place to monitor racial incidents in schools.

He said: “We, together with school governors, have a duty to create and implement strategies to prevent and address racism.

“All staff, teaching and non-teaching, should see dealing with racist incidents as an important part of their professional duties.

“There should be an appreciation of the serious implications that racial harassment can have for the wellbeing of the school and the community.

“Openness about incidents is encouraged. All schools promote racial tolerance through their inclusive ethos and the pastoral curriculum.”

Reaction from community leaders.

Rizwan Khaliq, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Kingston, said: “Look at what is happening in football at the moment with Luis Suarez and one time England captain John Terry.

“Children are very impressionable and can receive messages from different sources that can have a very negative impact.

“Schools need to be more forthcoming with information so that a wider picture can emerge. It could just be that this is one isolated incident, however, if it is indicative of a wider problems in a certain area or areas of the borough then it is something that would need to be tackled sooner rather than later.”

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Kingston Liberal Synagogue, said: “We take a lot of time to go into schools because the people I work for, the Jewish community feel it is important to engage.

“Many of the kids who come to the synagogue are the only Jewish children in the schools they go to, so getting involved in their school is important to breaking down barriers and suspicions about other groups.

“What is also important is speaking to parents because it is all very well educating children but if they are getting negative messages at home then that will have no impact.”

Kingston Racial Equality Council chairman John Azah described the figures as “absolutely shocking”.

He said: “I am surprised to hear these figures as I have always thought Kingston was a very tolerant place.

“We do a lot of work in secondary schools and because of that things are generally for good in our schools.

“However, a lot of primary schools have been reluctant to have us come in.

“Some school perhaps thinks if they ask us for help that will label them as a racist school.

“But getting into schools early and tackling these problems is important.”

Comments (1)

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10:57am Mon 20 Feb 12

NewKingstonian says...

The idea of excluding children of this age from school for making remarks that I doubt they fully understand the impact of is a bizarre way of dealing with a problem. Surely education is exactly what is needed and the opposite is being offered.

Excluding a child can only build barriers and make them resentful. It's time schools looked at their way of managing these issues. The current situation will not do.
The idea of excluding children of this age from school for making remarks that I doubt they fully understand the impact of is a bizarre way of dealing with a problem. Surely education is exactly what is needed and the opposite is being offered. Excluding a child can only build barriers and make them resentful. It's time schools looked at their way of managing these issues. The current situation will not do. NewKingstonian

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