BASINGSTOKE schools are “weak” at responding to racism, an inquiry into discrimination has found.

Maria Miller commissioned the study into the lived experiences of BAME residents in June, following the death of George Floyd which sparked peaceful anti-racism protests.

The wide-ranging report, which looked at all areas of life, found Basingstoke schools are “weak” to deal with racism, despite requirements that all schools have bullying and discrimination policies.

Around 20 per cent of Basingstoke’s school population is non-white, while non-white teachers make up less than two per cent of teachers.

People from many different ethnic backgrounds felt that public sector organisations had a clear understanding of racism, with detailed policies, but most did not implement these strategies to tackle racist abuse in a way that made a difference. As a result, there was little trust that organisations would act if racist abuse was reported.

Schools have different expectations for their Black, Asian and ethnic minority students and could lack ambition for them as a result, according to those who responded to the inquiry.

Participants also felt school staff had stereotypical assumptions about students and their abilities based on their race.

Those who contributed to the inquiry gave suggestions to schools. Basingstoke Unites Against Racism suggests that school boards were given diversity quotas to ensure the school community is best represented.

An interview with the Pakistani Muslim community found that schools could play a larger part in combating Islamophobia. A teacher at a school asked one boy to speak about Islam and he was awarded a prize for his Islamic studies, which was a “real source of joy and acceptance”.

The Hindu community said further education in schools is needed about diverse cultures.

Several headteachers welcomes the inquiry. Headteacher of Aldworth school Paul Jenkin said: “Aldworth school pupils shared their experiences and it was a sobering experience to realise how racism is still, sadly, a part of students’ lives. The inquiry has galvanised our determination to challenge racism as a community and the school is developing new projects to ensure that racism and equality is seen as an issue for everyone.”

Jamie Carroll, headteacher of St Bede’s Catholic Primary School, said: ‘Basingstoke is a strong and diverse community which can only be strengthened further by the whole community standing together against racism.”

Headteacher of The Costello School Randall Jull said, “The Costello School, as part of Bohunt Education Trust (BET) recognises that challenging racism is part of its responsibility to broader society and the development of Basingstoke. Costello proactively encourages discussion and action on racism and other pervasive issues; our student led action group on Black Lives Matters is just one of several groups which promotes diversity and equality and we are incredibly proud of our current and past students, who have grown to be successful and caring members of society. We are committed to ensuring all students are not only aware of inequality and understand its causes and effects but are motivated to do something to change the status quo.”

The wide-ranging report also found there isn’t enough representation of BAME residents in civic life. Just one out of 60 borough councillors is from an ethnic minority background.

In comes after The Vyne School in Basingstoke came under fire in October after teachers repeated a racial in front of students and suspended a student of colour for allegedly defending herself against racism.