In this article, we’re examining discrimination issues in schools in Wales.
When you send your child to school, you would expect them to be treated the same way as any other child, regardless of race, gender or disability. However, sadly, this is not always every student’s experience.
Creating a more inclusive environment is always a key focus for schools, yet figures show that discrimination is still an issue in some Welsh schools. In extreme cases, parents may seek help from educational solicitors for advice on handling such situations in which their children are involved in. In this article, we’ll be examining some of the issues and what can be done to tackle discrimination in schools.
What Kind of Discrimination Occurs in Welsh schools?
Discrimination in schools can take a number of forms and, some of these are:
While it’s hard to accept, racism can still be an issue in Wales and some parents have complained that their children have been subject to racist comments and stereotyping in the classroom.
In May 2022, 11 year old Raheem Bailey endured six hours of surgery after losing a finger while fleeing a racist attack at school. The assault, according to his mother, was the culmination of a number of race related incidents at Abertillery Learning Community.
In recent years, problems in Welsh schools have risen in terms of gender and sexuality which led to Wales introducing sex and sexuality education in schools. While this was opposed by some, just this week a court ruled that this education is lawful and appropriate – which is very much a step forward when it comes to tackling gender discrimination.
Additionally, guidance has been issued to schools in West Glamorgan regarding transgender pupils. The initiative seeks to tackle bullying and to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all children, regardless of their gender.
As with the rest of the UK, it is illegal to discriminate against someone with a disability in Wales. Children with a disability face a number of challenges at school including inaccessible environments, a lack of appropriate learning materials, unqualified and inexperienced teachers and discrimination amongst their peers.
For many, this means that the school experience is a frustrating one which results in them falling behind due to lack of opportunities. To tackle this issue, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales produced the ‘Don’t Hold Back’ report which seeks to examine the experiences of school age children with learning disabilities during the transition from childhood to adulthood and to look at improvements that can be made.
How Can Schools Tackle Discrimination?
It’s clear that there is work to be done to improve things in Welsh schools and, this may include:
Diversity in employment
Many feel that one way of tackling discrimination is to introduce more diversity amongst teachers and other staff that work within schools. It’s felt that more diversity in terms of staff with differing genders, races and abilities would be a step toward a more inclusive school environment for many – as well as offering more career opportunities for adults.
Education on subject matters
The word ‘diversity’ is bandied about a great deal these days, particularly within the media. However, it’s thought that little will change without comprehensive education in schools, beginning with young children.
By teaching children about the meaning of diversity at an early age, standards can be set with behavior towards others around them. Introducing young children to the concept of diversity has been shown to be effective in forming more positive opinions and empathy as they grow older.
Changes to the law
Many people feel that ultimately, legislation will be central for change when it comes to making Welsh schools more inclusive. By enforcing strict laws – and issuing severe penalties for breaches, it’s believed that more schools are likely to take diversity a lot more seriously in the future.
There are those who also believe that bullying by other children should be treated more reactively in schools, with bullies facing instant suspension if found to have been targeting somebody due to race, gender or disability.
A step forward for Welsh schools…
The UK is a nation which prides itself on its high quality of free education for all and while this is achieved on the whole, there are still issues which need to be addressed in order to make all children feel safe and welcome at school.
By employing a more diverse range of staff and providing more education on disabilities, gender and race, schools in Wales can step towards real change for future generations. Whilst changes to the law may seem extreme, such changes can set a strong precedent of expectations on schools.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on the education law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.