'Concerning' rise in racist incidents reported in Gravesham and Dartford schools (From News Shopper)
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'Concerning' rise in racist incidents reported in Gravesham and Dartford schools
THE number of racist incidents reported in Dartford and Gravesham schools is on the rise, News Shopper can reveal.
Figures obtained by a freedom of information request show an increase from 126 to 155 in the two boroughs’ state schools over the past three years.
Ranging from name calling to physical abuse, Dartford schools saw the highest three-year rise - from 57 to 74, while Gravesham had the most number of cases in one year with 88 in 2010/11.
Gurvinder Sandher, the CEO of Kent Equality Cohesion Council, said the 20 per cent rise is "concerning".
He told News Shopper: "These figures indicate further work still needs to take place and it is not just for schools but also for parents and the wider society to play their part."
Mr Sandher was struck that of the 713 cases reported in state schools throughout Dartford, Gravesham and Swale between 2009 and 2012, 335 victims were aged seven to 11.
He added: "It is important to stress, however, that overall we enjoy positive community relations in Gravesham and Dartford which have the largest and most established Black Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Kent.
"But these figures show we need to continue to work together to tackle racism and challenge discrimination wherever it takes place."
The organisation helps promote cohesion across the county and in schools through events such as St George's Day and the Festivals of Light in Gravesham and Dartford.
With 36 reported incidents Whitehill Primary in Gravesend recorded the highest number of cases across Dartford and Gravesham in the past three years.
Headteacher Jane Porter defended the figure saying the Sun Lane school has a "very rigorous and hard approach" to combating racism.
She told News Shopper: "I don’t think we have any more incidents of racism than any other school.
"We take every incident very seriously because we don’t tolerate racism and report any incidents in our school through the correct procedures."
Twenty in one year
Meanwhile, Dover Road Community Primary in Gravesend recorded 20 incidents last year - the highest number out of all state schools throughout Dartford, Gravesham and Swale.
While reported cases in the two boroughs are on the rise Swale is heading in the other direction - with a 40 per cent drop in 2012 compared to the year before.
Incidents ranged from name calling and verbal abuse to refusal co-operate due to religious belief or cultural differences and physical abuse.