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The Teachers’ Union of Ireland today highlighted that as many as 46% of respondents to a survey reported a racist incident taking place in their school in the previous month.
Marketing company Behaviour and Attitudes (B&A) last year conducted independent research among teachers and lecturers on the issue of interculturalism, racism and resources for minority ethnic students.
Indicators exist that the situation is worse in Dublin, and that increased incidences are also being reported in communities where job losses are prevalent.
The union has warned that key middle management posts such as year heads, programme/school activities co-ordinators play a vital role in promoting interculturalism and that the block on appointments to these positions will have devastating effects going forward.
TUI's annual conference takes place at the West County Hotel, Ennis from Tuesday April 6th to Thursday April 8th.
Speaking on the findings, TUI Deputy General Secretary Annette Dolan said:
“While the various cutbacks inflicted on the education sector have had a severe impact on all students, minority ethnic students have been disproportionately hit by Government cutbacks where there is a rapid spiralling downwards of pastoral care support in schools, which now have larger class groups.
In addition, specific supports for these students have been asset stripped in the government’s slash and burn approach to education over the past eighteen months.
As a nation we were more than happy to welcome the parents of these children to contribute to the success of our booming economy. Now it appears that as a nation we are happy to restrict the chances of educational attainment of their children by way of an imposition of a ceiling of two on the number of English language support teachers per school.
Learning English is not a luxury for these students, it is essential to their very survival and to assist, support and enable the development of social cohesion in our communities.
There are a number of key recommendations which require urgent implementation in order to give these students parity of opportunity with their peers in order to reach their potential within the Irish education system.”
43% of respondents were aware of racist incidents which had occurred in their school in the past month.
32% of respondents stated that they do not have a specific formal procedure that is followed if a racist incident occurs in their school or college
28% of teachers taught between four and ten minority ethnic students in a single class. 18% taught between 4-6 and 10% taught between 7-10
Over a third of Dublin schools have 20% or more minority ethnic students.
60% of teachers in VEC schools stated that the presence of minority students in classes increases teacher workload.
70% of teachers said that interpretation services were inadequate
64% said that in-service support for intercultural education is inadequate
62% said that support available for teaching English as a second language was inadequate
80% of respondents from VEC schools said their school does not have access to external translation services
60% of respondents believe that additional promotional posts with special responsibility for minority ethnic students are necessary in schools
86% believe that funding for in-service courses should be available
77% believe all teachers should receive in-service on intercultural education
49% of VEC schools do not have policy on anti-racism and the promotion of interculturalism
56% believe a dedicated home school liaison teacher is required where a high number of minority students exist
Any barriers which restrict the full participation and complete involvement of minority ethnic parents/guardians in the education of their children must be removed including:
Key TUI Recommendations
- An immediate lifting of the block on appointments to middle management positions
- Schools with a high number of Minority Ethnic Students should have the services of a dedicated Home School Community Liaison Service
- Schools/colleges/centres should have access to translation/interpretation/cultural mediation services where such services are required for minority ethnic students and their parents/guardians
- Additional posts of responsibility should be provided in schools/colleges which have a high proportion of minority ethnic students
- Minority ethnic students should be entitled to a dedicated career guidance service. Extra hours for guidance should be assigned to schools where there are significant numbers of minority ethnic students and these hours should be reserved unequivocally for these students
- The school/college code of behaviour should be very clear that racist comments, gestures or acts are not acceptable. Indeed all students irrespective of race should be dealt with consistency in the school/college code of behaviour
- Every school should have a policy on anti-racism. Such a policy should provide as a minimum that all racist incidents be thoroughly investigated. Procedures to deal with such incidents should be clearly outlined
- Every school/college/centre should have a specific formal procedure which is followed if a racist incident occurs
- There should be a structure in place with resources to have teaching hours available at second level/further education/third for minority ethnic students level who require English language support. In light of global expertise, the provision of English language support should be extended beyond two years for students who still need extra tuition in English
- Inservice courses on intercultural education should be provided for all teachers/lecturers.
A quantitative survey of 442 second and third level teachers was conducted by marketing company Behaviour & Attitudes via self-completion methodology