Teaching professionals from minority ethnic backgrounds in Scotland have been subjected to horrific racist abuse after sharing plans for more diversity in education.
The abuse has been condemned by leading education bodies who have also called upon social media companies to do more.
Education staff were subjected to the abuse following a presentation at the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) which focussed on the experiences of minority ethnic teachers in education and the need for increased diversity.
Material from the presentation was shared by some staff on Twitter where they were subsequently sent the abuse, which has been branded “vile” by the EIS teaching union.
One staff member told STV News how the racism included comments about Scotland being “a white only country”.
In response to the abuse, the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching union, said: “The EIS stands in full solidarity with colleagues who are being racially abused on Twitter, and urges the platform to urgently reconsider its apparent tolerance of such racist abuse of our BAME colleagues. It is not acceptable.”
In a full statement the union said: “Following a presentation at the Scottish Learning Festival (SLF) last week, focusing on anti-racism in education and diversifying the education profession, several of our members and Education Scotland staff were subjected to vile online racist abuse.
“The EIS condemns this abuse, and all forms of racism, and will continue to work to eradicate this type of unacceptable behaviour from our society.
“Conversations about anti-racism in education are crucial to achieve an equitable education system for all, and the targeted abuse levelled at those speaking out, is a stark illustration of this. The EIS stands in solidarity with our colleagues in the fight against racism in every sphere of society. The anti-racist movement will not be silenced.
“The EIS urges the relevant social media platforms to urgently reconsider their apparent tolerance of such racist abuse of our BAME colleagues and take appropriate action against the perpetrators of online abuse. Racist abuse is a criminal offence, and the EIS will continue to do all that it can to protect its members from this type of discriminatory, offensive and wholly unacceptable behaviour.
“Any EIS member who has experienced racist abuse related to their work should report this to their line manager and to their EIS Representative in the first instance. Further information on EIS anti-racist work and policy can be found on our website.”
Education Scotland, who hosted the festival, also condemned the online comments.
Chief executive of Education Scotland Gayle Gorman said: “Several of our sessions at last week’s SLF focused on anti-racism and diversifying the education profession and the importance of our professional learning professions programme, Building Racial Literacy, which is being co-constructed in partnership with anti-racist organisations, stakeholders and educators across Scotland.
“While there were many positive responses to these sessions on social media, the series of racist comments that have followed prove the importance of the anti-racist professional learning offer and the need to promote anti-racism and diversity more widely. Education Scotland will not tolerate any racist comments on social media channels and that of our colleagues.”
In response to Education Scotland, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for education, Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “There is no place for racism in our education system. It is appalling to see teachers and Education Scotland being abused in this way. Solidarity with those who have been targeted. Such abuse further demonstrates why this work is so important.”
The General Teaching Council (GTC) for Scotland also commented on the issue with a spokesperson stating: “Over the weekend a series of racist comments were directed toward our colleagues and others in the teaching profession. This is unacceptable.
“The teaching profession in Scotland sets high standards for itself. This is reflected in the professional values of social justice, trust and respect, and integrity. These values speak to the aspiration of the profession for an inclusive world.
“The Standard for Full Registration requires teachers to understand how to take account and adapt their teaching to the context of learners.
“In an ever-changing and challenging world, teachers can help children and young people be thinking and responsible citizens.”