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Teachers demand return of Welsh schools to council control in bid to tackle racism

TEACHERS demanded the return of Welsh schools to local council control today as part of a strategy to tackle rising levels of racism.

Teachers’ union NASUWT Cymru was responding to a report on racism in Welsh secondary schools by Children’s Commissioner Rocio Cifuentes called Take it Seriously.

NASUWT Cymru’s Neil Butler said: “The report on racism in secondary schools is a welcome addition to the growing evidence of a general and widespread decline in the behaviour of learners in our schools.”

The union agreed with the commissioner that diversity training was important but said schools needed more robust behaviour policies and more black, Asian and ethnic minority staff recruited.

Mr Butler told the Star that while schools are still governed through local management of schools, recruitment would be difficult.

“We need schools back in local authority control where appropriate equalities employment policies can be enforced,” Mr Butler said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has previously suggested he is open to local authority control of schools.

The children’s commissioner listened to 170 children as part of the research, as well as school leaders, teachers and staff and made 22 recommendations.

Experiences of racism in the report include young Muslim girls being told: “You’re hiding a bomb in your scarf,” a girl’s hijab being pulled off, pupils being called terrorists and the use of the N-word. 

“The voices collected have given us stark insight into the extent to which children and young people are experiencing racism and racist incidents,” Ms Cifuentes said.

“On the whole, teachers reported feeling underequipped and unconfident to respond to racism.”

National Education Union Cymru’s Mary van den Heuvel said: “NEU Cymru is deeply concerned by this report, which mirrors the experience of black staff. 

“NEU Cymru believes that all forms of racism must be challenged and that more must be done to support all learners and staff to feel safe and supported.”

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: “Racism is unacceptable in our schools.

“While this report makes for difficult reading, it is vital that we listen to children and young people, and effectively address the issues they are facing.”

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