INCIDENTS of racism have increased in Wigan’s schools over the last year.
According to statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act, the number of racist acts reported in the borough’s school has risen from 187 in 2009 to 207 last year.
Whilst the borough appears to be falling behind in multi-cultural tolerance, other constituencies are improving. In total, across Greater Manchester, there have been 2,015 incidents in 2010, down from 2009’s figure of 2,082.
Oldham and Trafford also showed an increase in reports of racism in schools but Manchester recorded the most offences, with 435, down from 598 in 2009.
Incidents which were highlighted by teachers included racist jokes and name-calling, intimidation, and even pupils bringing racist literature into schools.
Under race equality laws, schools must report all racist incidents – and what follow-up action they have taken.
In some cases, staff tried to deal with the problem by mediation between pupils.
Offenders were also given warnings, put on behaviour plans or given mentoring. In more serious cases, pupils were given repeat detentions or temporarily excluded.
Coun Sue Loudon, cabinet champion for children and young people, said: “Both Wigan Council and the borough’s schools take all incidents of racism extremely seriously.
“We encourage anyone who has suffered racist abuse in our schools to come forward and have introduced rigorous reporting measures in a bid to identify such incidents as they happen.
“It is in one sense encouraging that more young people feel confident enough to come forward and report the fact that they have been the victim of racism but it is disappointing that this type of behaviour still continues.
“School staff are trained to take the appropriate action to deal with racism and the situation is closely monitored to ensure it does not happen again. Whilst teachers and other school staff have an important role to play in this area - the responsibility for eradicating racism from our society lies with us all.”