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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Schools 'must investigate all playground bullying for racism' after pupil left brain damaged in gang hammer attack

Every incident of playground bullying should be investigated by schools for racism, a review has urged.
The study, which focuses on events surrounding an attack on a white schoolboy by a Muslim gang, called on teachers to have more contact with police.

It also pushes for schools nationwide to record the ethnicity of bullies and victims and take urgent action should a pattern of racism arise.

The report, due to be released today, was the first serious case review into problems at a school.

It examined circumstances surrounding the attack on Henry Webster who suffered a fractured skull after being hit with a claw hammer in January 2007, when he was 15.

The 6ft 2in former rugby player was left brain damaged when he was ambushed by a group of Asian youths outside Ridgeway School, in Wroughton, near Swindon, where they all attended.

Afterwards, his attackers punched the air in triumph, shouting: 'That's what you call Paki bashing.'

In 2008, 13 people were convicted over their role in the attack.

Today’s review, which involved speaking to the school, police, council and other organisations, slams the school for failing to tackle the growing tensions between Muslim and white teenagers.

It claims opportunities to intervene to address escalating issues were missed – even after a riot on the school playing fields.

And it claims the school did not adequately prepare when about 20 Asian pupils joined in September 2005 – less than two months after the 7/7 London bombings.

According to the Telegraph, the review says: ‘[Ridgeway] knew well in advance that a significant number of British Asian pupils were joining the school in September 2005.

‘They did not prepare for this which was soon after the London bombings in July 2005. The likely influence of all pupils’ communities and families on pupil behaviour was not understood.’

However, Henry’s mother Liz Webster called the report a ‘whitewash’.

‘We are very concerned that the report has failed to address many of the failings which surrounded our family’s treatment throughout this terrible episode in our lives,’ she told the Telegraph.

‘The criticism of the local authority is tantamount to a whitewash as it is so minimal and limited.

‘The review doesn’t mention what needs to be done to improve race relations in Swindon which is an urgent concern considering the increase in the vote for the BNP.’

The Department for Education is expected to release an executive summary of the serious case review - not the entire report.

About 40,000 incidents of racism have been reported by schools every year since 2002 when they were placed under a legal obligation to monitor all racist incidents.

However, the review's 32 recommendations would further add to the ‘red tape’ facing schools which Education Secretary Michael Gove has planned to cut.

Daily Mail