Edinburgh teachers accused of calling pupils 'monkey’ and slave’ issued with improvement plan by council
Edinburgh City Council’s investigation of 73 separate incidents of racism against pupils has found that more could be done within schools.
In June 2020, pupils from St Augustine's High School came forward with allegations of racism after former pupil, Miguel Chui, launched a campaign slamming teaching staff for racist behaviour toward black and ethnic minority students.
The claims included pupils being called ‘monkey’ and ‘slave’ by teaching staff and being told to "go back to where you came from” by other students.
The shocking accusations led the council to launch a formal investigation in July 2020, which was overseen by an independent equalities adviser.
The main focus of the investigation was on St Augustine’s High School but also included Holy Rood RC High School, Craigmount, Drummond and Firrhill after further complaints were made.
In total 73 complaints were received via social media and emails.
Findings from this investigation were expected to be published by September 25, 2020, but this deadline was not met.
Today, five months after the original deadline, the report has now been published.
It found that although schools demonstrated many effective examples of responding appropriately to alleged racist incidents more could be done within schools to develop a firm anti-racist perspective.
There was no evidence to support complaints that schools enabled racism.
An action plan setting out how Edinburgh schools should deal with racist incidents has been drawn up by the council following these findings.
Areas identified as requiring improvement include; the processes of reporting racist incidents, managing racist incidents and reviewing the curriculum to ensure it does not perpetuate racist or colonialist attitudes.
The council has committed to auditing its current plans to improve equalities in schools and will support schools to; appoint pupil and staff equalities co-ordinators, embed additional guidance for dealing with racist incidents and provide staff training to review the curriculum.
Education, Children and Families Convener for the council, councillor Ian Perry has apologised for the five-month delay in releasing the report which led many young people involved to question the council’s seriousness in tackling racism in city schools.
Councillor Perry said: “Firstly I want to apologise unreservedly to any of our young people who felt their concerns or reports about racism were not taken seriously or that their school has not dealt with any incidents properly. I want to thank everyone who has come forward and brought these allegations to light for sharing their personal accounts and recollections and to the staff who took part in the inquiry.”
He added that the investigation has given the council the tools to deal with future issues of racism more effectively.
Councillor Perry said: “This was a very thorough investigation and as a result we now have a clear and very robust action plan which can only strengthen our commitment to dealing with racism. Ultimately, we all want every young person who attends our schools to feel safe and supported as they go through their education. I hope that the lessons learned from this investigation will mean that many more young people feel that this will improve as a result.”
Vice Convener for Education, Children and Families Councillor, Alison Dickie, said she believes more must be done
Councillor Dickie said: “Racism is an issue that needs both city and council-wide action. This is about a change of culture and systems. Although there is positive work taking place across our schools, we fully realise that much more needs to be done. This involves listening to young people who have experienced racism and placing them in the driving seat of our work towards race equality.”