In a recent article, it has been reported that in the past year Suffolk Schools have reported a decline in race relations. The racial incidents involve both teachers and students. The best way to improve Suffolk Schools is to empower teachers to solve the problems related to race relations.

According to the article, almost three incidents of racism were reported in Suffolk schools every day during the last academic year, shock new figures have revealed.

According to the figures, released under Freedom of Information laws, there were 494 reported incidents of racism in primary and secondary schools in 2013/14. This includes verbal and physical incidents.

That is an increase of 130 compared to 2011/12, when there were 364 incidents, but a slight fall on 2012/13’s figure of 498.

It has also been suggested that the number of reports could actually be much higher because in 2010, the Government said it was no longer a statutory requirement for schools to report the number of racist incidents to councils.

Graham White, secretary of Suffolk National Union of Teachers, said the time teachers were given in the curriculum to teach these issues had been “squeezed” by other government requirements.

In 2013/14, more than half of the incidents reported were in primary schools, and the figures include seven physical attacks, and 22 involving a member of staff. Between 2010 and 2014, there were 20 physical incidents, 38 were described as both physical and verbal, while 1,677 were verbal.

In the past four years, schools in the south of Suffolk have reported the highest number of racist incidents, amounting to more than 50% of all of the county’s numbers in 2013/14, 2012/13 and 2010/11.

Audrey Ludwig, legal director at the Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, said younger children often inadvertently repeated racist terms without knowing what they meant.

“Unfortunately we still get reports about thoughtless use of language by teachers during the curriculum, for example words used in the teaching of slavery,” she added. “People have to be careful about the impact of language.”

The article blames teachers and external factors such as parenting for the present demise in race relations. Teachers who have challenges with expressing themselves during curriculum activities that are designed to promote positive race relations are in many occasions frustrated due to a process that impedes the teacher rather that empower the teacher.

Empowering Teachers

School leaders who desire to increase school effectiveness know that students can benefit from empowered teacher. Empowered teachers will often become the leaders by contributing positive changes as a result of increased participation in shared decision-making, teamwork and delegation of authority. Teachers who are involved in program decision-making opportunities view their work as being significant and therefore make great strides to improve their work performance.

An empowered teacher will exhibit more collaborative efforts to ensure that every student is successful. Empowered teachers will implement and investigate new methodologies that will impact student learning.

Teachers benefit from empowered environments too. Empowered teachers accept responsibility for the decisions that affect their work and will therefore make their wok more meaningful. The lack of opportunities for input in the decision making process as well as lack of support from school administration is among the main reasons teachers leave the profession. When teachers leave the profession, schools are presented with a different set of dynamics that can prove detrimental to the school and the students.

The best way to empower teachers to improve race relations in Suffolk Schools is to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships) by utilizing a team building process.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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