The teaching union has called on the government to provide more “guidance and support” to school leaders, as reports of racist incidents related to coronavirus increase.
Students and teachers of Chinese descent are being singled out for “abuse, prejudice, xenophobia and racism” due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK, according to teaching union NASUWT.
The union took the step of writing to the education minister Gavin Williamson today asking for more support to be given to schools, following an increase in the number of incidents in recent weeks of “jokes, banter, racist name-calling and intimidation” directed at members from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Alleged incidents are said to include reports of pupils at schools playing an “unsavoury” game of tag named after the coronavirus.
Chris Keates, Acting General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“The NASUWT is extremely concerned at the extent of increased incidences of abuse, prejudice, xenophobia and racism as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Misinformation and false reporting about the coronavirus, its causes and how it is spread have fuelled fear and panic and in some cases led to the ostracising of people of East Asian heritage and others perceived to be ‘foreign’ or an ‘immigrant’ within the UK.
“Unfortunately, schools and colleges are not exempt from the associated xenophobic and racialised stereotyping of Chinese and other East Asian people. The NASUWT has received reports of increased covert and overt racial attacks perpetrated against some minority ethnic pupils and NASUWT members linked to coronavirus concerns.
“The NASUWT is urging the Department for Education to communicate with schools and provide guidance and support for school leaders.”
The NASUWT already has guidance on how schools can deal with coronavirus-related racism on their website, which includes:
- Schools and colleges should ensure that any abuse or harassment associated with the coronavirus is treated seriously and acted upon immediately.
- Schools and colleges must have in place procedures to address all forms of racism, to eradicate racist incidents and to deal with the perpetrators of such incidents.
- Any physical or verbal abuse associated with the coronavirus should be considered by schools as a potential racist incident and must be dealt with seriously.
- All schools and colleges are bound by legislation to protect staff and pupils from racial discrimination, harassment or abuse.
- Schools and colleges should have reporting mechanisms for incidents of harassment, bullying and discrimination, including arrangements for reporting such incidents directed against staff.
View the NASUWT’s advice and their letter to the education secretary in full on their website.