Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey has apologised to the victims of racism in capital schools, after an investigation found numerous incidents of racist abuse from both students and teachers.
Some of the allegations of racist abuse include pupils being called “monkeys” and “slaves”, and being told to “go home” by racist students, and that racial stereotypes were perpetuated by staff using words like “gang” or “tribe” to refer to groups of BAME students.
In one school, pupils alleged that the use of the N-word was tolerated by staff.
Several teachers across the capital’s schools have been implicated by the report, and management reviews are said to be ongoing, although no disciplinary action has been taken.
The report stopped short of claiming that a ‘culture of racism’ exists in the local authority’s schools, but did conclude that at some schools the processes to report racism are ineffective, the management of racist incidents is ineffective, and the schools’ cultures are not “sufficiently” supportive of BAME pupils.
Now, council leader McVey, who represents Leith for the SNP, apologised to those who experienced racism in the city’s schools, and thanked those who came forward to report it.
After being called on to apologise by fellow SNP councillor Alison Dickie, at a full meeting of the council on Thursday, councillor McVey said: “I’m happy to join councillor Dickie in saying two things.
“One – sorry to those that have experienced that behaviour in our buildings and our schools where they should have been safe, and also thank you to those young people for raising issues, and for being part of those discussions about their lived experience.
“Our report and our way forward is far, far stronger because it has that lived experience, but that report is only a report – our next actions and steps have to be active, have to be bold, and have to deliver for our young people.
“I met a whole range of organisations right across Scotland who are dealing with similar issues – and it is really important that that lived experience is not just a voice for an action plan, but a voice through those actions being taken, on the ground, through our educational establishments.
“It’s really important also, that that discussion does not stop at the school gates, because racism is not born in the classroom, it’s born outside the classroom, and it needs to be tackled wherever we find it.
“I’m absolutely confident that we can make inroads on this, but that will require two things – it will require us to listen to people who are experiencing this issue, and it will also require an element of bravery on all our behalf, as elected members, to stare those who are actively working against this agenda.
“I was very grateful for the all-part agreement that we had on this, I think that was an incredibly important signal to send as a council, and I hope we continue to send that signal out when it comes to tackling racism right across the city.”
By local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson