Thousands of nursery school children branded racist by teachers... before they know what the word means
By LAURA CLARK
Last updated at 12:47 AM on 30th October 2009
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As many as 40,000 youngsters a year are being wrongly branded racists as new rules force schools to investigate every playground spat, according to a new report.
Children in nurseries and primary schools are being disciplined over racist insults even before they know what the terms mean, it claimed.
A growing army of diversity 'missionaries' may be fuelling tensions instead of easing them, warned the report from the Manifesto Club civil liberties group.
These race advisers and bureaucrats are said to be increasing the divide between white and black youngsters by forcing them to see the world through the filter of race.
Innocent: Reporting racism by young pupils wastes teachers' time, a study says
The report said a child had been severely disciplined for calling two other children a 'chocolate bar'. Another child had been punished for calling a boy 'white trash'.
Report author Adrian Hart said: 'The obligation on schools to report these incidents wastes teachers' time, interferes in children's space in the playground, and undermines teachers' ability to deal with problems in their classrooms.
'Worse, such anti-racist policies can create divisions where none had existed, by turning everyday playground spats into "race issues".
'There are a small number of cases of sustained targeted bullying, and schools certainly need to deal with those.
'But most of these 'racist incidents' are just kids falling out. They don't need re-educating out of their prejudice - they and their teachers need to be left alone.'
Under rules introduced in 2002, schools must monitor and report all racist incidents to their local authority.
Teachers are required to fill in special referral forms detailing the incident and punishment.
According to the report The Myth of Racist Kids, around 280,000 incidents have been reported in England since full records began.
Many involve pupils still at primary school, it said.
Out of 5,000 incidents in Yorkshire in 2006/07, for example, the majority were in primary schools.
Meanwhile Essex County Council figures show that most of the children involved in reported racist incidents were between nine and 11.
One teacher told researchers that anti-racist interventions had led to 'an absolutely awful atmosphere around the school'.
'Children who used to play beautifully together are starting to separate along racial lines,' the teacher said.
The Manifesto Group is calling for 'adult politics' not to be projected on to children and compulsory reporting of racist incidents to be abolished.
Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of of School and College Leaders, said: 'Certainly any racist incident in schools should be dealt with swiftly but the definition of racism can be taken too far, especially with young children who clearly don't understand the connotation behind the words.'
But Schools Minister Diana Johnson said: 'If racist bullying is not dealt with in schools, then this will send a powerful message to children that racism is acceptable - not only in schools but in society as a whole.'
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