MP: Review guidance so data on racist incidents in schools can be acted upon
Ministers should commit to review education guidance “so data on racist incidents in schools can once again be collected and acted on”, a Labour MP has suggested.
Janet Daby warned “there are things where the Government has gone backward rather than going forward” as she raised the issue during her Westminster Hall debate on racial discrimination in schools.
The MP for Lewisham East said the “welfare of the child is paramount” adding: “That begins by accepting that its guidance in 2012 and 2017 was wrong.”
She told MPs: “In 2012 the Government advised schools that they have no legal obligation to report racist incidents to their local authority.
“In 2017 the Government issued further guidance that schools have no obligation to record bullying of any form.
“If racist incidents, bullying more generally are not being tracked, how can schools, local authorities, Ofsted or indeed the Department for Education identify a problem and then act on it? The answer is of course they can’t, the data is simply not there.”
She added: “The Government needs to again uphold the principle that the welfare of the child is paramount. That begins by accepting that its guidance in 2012 and 2017 was wrong.
“So will the minister commit to review these decisions so data on racist incidents in schools can once again be collected and acted on?
“As we have sadly seen in the last month, discriminatory incidences can sometimes be violent and in these situations headteachers and school staff should be able to confidently and safely intervene to safeguard children.”
She also called on the minister to “agree to update guidance on the use of reasonable force, to include a requirement for schools to have a policy on it and for it to be part of training for school staff to receive”.
Referring to her own past experiences, she said: “I remember feeling unsafe in my own community, feeling unsafe because of my ethnicity and surely years later black, Asian and ethnic minority children shouldn’t be feeling unsafe in our communities.
“The fight against racial discrimination began long before the far right marched through my childhood community and it is still being fought today.”
Education minister Nick Gibb said the Government is committed to “supporting schools in the work that they’re doing to educate young people about prejudice of all forms, and to protect young people from discrimination”.
He said that in September last year, the updated statutory guidance ‘keeping children safe in education’ was published, which “supports schools and colleges to meet their duties in relation to equality, harassment and victimisation”.
On the issue of reasonable force, Mr Gibb said a new programme of work to minimise the use of restraint unreasonable force in all schools has been started and “will include updating guidance with a focus on prevention and de-escalation and making recording and reporting incidents of restraint to parents a legal duty”.
He went on: “Now, this work began with extensive consultation, research and a call for evidence on the use of reasonable force and restrictive practices and this was launched … in February, and it will be open for 12 weeks closing on May 11.”