British schools are suspending hundreds of children aged 11 and under every year for being “racist” to classmates, government figures have shown.
New statistics show that 430 pupils at primary schools in England were forced to stay away from school premises for “racist abuse” – a 33% increase in five years.
The UK’s Department for Education published statistics for the 2015 academic year – the latest available – in December, showing that just under 1% of all suspensions are now for allegedly racist behaviour.
There are reports that pupils as young as six are being punished, causing some to wonder how children can who can still barely read can realistically be considered guilty of a hate crime.
The figures are a significant jump from the 2010 academic year, when 320 pupils were excluded.
In secondary schools, where pupils are aged 11 to 16, many more are suspended over racism – around 3,300 per year.
But while more primary-level pupils are being punished, figures for older students have remained consistent.
A source from the Department for Education, speaking to The Guardian, suggested that the increase may be a result of teachers being more sensitive, rather than children being more racist.