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In the immediate months following the EU referendum occurrences of racially or religiously aggravated crimes soared – in July 2016 alone police witnessed a 41% increase as compared to the year before.

If racist crimes (including assault and arson) continue to take place on the streets of Britain, seemingly perpetrated by individuals against complete strangers, it’s more than relevant to question whether racism in the classroom is also on the rise.

The post-referendum rise in racism in schools

A report by TES in July 2016 outlined many worrying statements by those on the front line of teaching…

The Vote Leave campaign predicated a lot of publicity around immigration and led last Friday morning to us getting phone calls and emails saying ‘Help, what do we do about this?’ from experienced teachers… A number of teachers reported that students from Eastern European or ethnic minority backgrounds were asking ‘Is it true that we are all going to have to leave now?’

Chris Waller, the Association for Citizenship Teaching (Act)

While SecEd drew specifically upon the results of a survey based on Welsh schools, with classroom incidents that included:

  • A Polish child who was told “they weren’t wanted around here and they should go back to where they came from”.
  • Following the Brexit vote, a Bangladeshi student “was asked if he ‘had a Visa’ and was told that ‘he was in ISIS’”.
  • Frequent use of the term ‘pikey’ among the pupils.
  • Parents of a White British family told their daughter to tell the Black British child at break-time ‘to go back to their own country’.

In one journalist’s investigation, a staff member from a Manchester Secondary school (where more than 75 different languages are spoken), said that there had been reports of clear, distinct divisions and rising tensions.

It seems that these classrooms are reflecting some of the reports of hate crimes taking place on UK streets.

The Brexit vote has had a profound effect on almost all facets of life within our school. The community is as multicultural as anywhere in the country but with that has brought clear divisions that are now being expressed in a shocking way. Children as young as 11 are talking about taking back control and winning the vote to get our country back.

What can be done to combat racism in the classroom?

As well as the advice we have offered previously, there are a number of online resources that can help you prevent and manage racism in the classroom.

Amnesty International’s general guide on overcoming classroom-based hate crimes includes a list of excellent resources including Education for Citizenship, Diversity and Race Equality: a practical guide by the Citizenship Foundation.

Charities and other organisations such as Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI), Stop Hate UK, Show Racism the Red Card, and Stand up to Racism offer advice, guidance, practical solutions and training.

You may also want to check out the collection of blogs that ACT have created around the referendum as well as The Guardian’s guide on ten questions that may be asked (and how to answer them).