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Education / Around two racist incidents recorded a year in local schools

SIC quality improvement officer says school staff ‘will challenge any racial prejudice’ if an incident occurs

FOUR racist incidents were recorded in Shetland’s schools during the last two academic years, according to new figures.

Freedom of information data requested by the Scottish Liberal Democrats showed two incidents in Shetland in 2018/19 and another two in 2019/20.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, who is the party’s education spokesperson, said “all forms of bullying need to be challenged effectively”.

Shetland Islands Council quality improvement officer James Johnston said the number of schools reporting a racist incident on average since 2015 was 1.3 per year.

Over that same time period there were on average 2.2 racist incidents recorded a year in Shetland’s schools.

“Staff in schools participate in a range of whole school approaches which create a culture of respect and understanding of equality,” Johnston said.

“Where incidents do occur, school staff will challenge any racial prejudice while promoting learning across a wide range of other equalities issues.”

In comparison Orkney recorded no incidents between 2018 and 2020 but saw three in 2017/18, while in the Western Isles 16 incidents were recorded in the last three academic years.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

A total of 659 were recorded across Scotland during 2019/20, with nearly one third coming in Glasgow.

“No one should go to school afraid that they will face racist abuse but these figures show that racist incidents remain a stubborn stain on Scottish schooling,” Wishart said.

“All forms of bullying need to be challenged effectively. That means accurate recording and monitoring of bullying so that the right interventions can be put in place to stamp these incidents out.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged us all to think about racial injustice and to reflect on Scotland’s own history.

“By and large Scotland is a great place to live but learning the lessons of the past will allow us to do even better in the future.”