Racist bullying in Lancashire schools is bucking the national trend
Fewer Lancashire pupils were excluded from school for racist bullying than anywhere else in the country last year.
Figures just out show that the county's schools expelled or suspended students 90 times for racist abuse in 2018-19 - down from 102 in the previous academic year.
The data, released by the Department for Education, reveals that of the exclusions last year, 89 were temporary suspensions and only one was permanent. The figures include abuse by children at state primary, secondary and special schools in the county.
Lancashire's figures differ dramatically from the rest of England, where pupils were excluded for racist bullying on 4,900 occasions last year – the highest since records began in 2006-07, and up from 4,300 in 2017-18.
In Blackpool, the figures dropped by half from 16 to eight in 2018-19. All were fixed-term exclusions,
Owen Jones, head of education at anti racism campaign group Hope Not Hate said: ""From what we have seen, there is a much better concerted effort to clamp down and take it more seriously.
"The process of exclusion is fraught for everyone involved, but the tolerance for that behaviour is reducing.
"Students of colour are having more confidence to speak up. It's not just about the 'n' word, it's about comments made throughout the day which make students feel unwelcome."
A recent survey by Ofsted revealed that many parents across the country were unhappy with the way schools dealt with bullying. The proportion of parents who felt schools had not dealt well with bullying varies greatly across England,
In Lancashire, eight per cent of parents said their child was not happy at their school, and six per cent said their child did not feel safe, compared to 44 per cent in Tameside in Manchester.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said in response to the Ofsted survey: “Schools should be safe places where children are taught to respect each other and staff.
“The Government has sent a clear message to schools that bullying, whether it is in the playground or online, is unacceptable. It can have a devastating effect on individuals, harm their education and have serious and lasting consequences for their mental health.
“All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying, and have the freedom to develop their own anti-bullying strategies and monitoring approaches to best suit their environment.”
A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council, said: "The safety and wellbeing of our students is of paramount importance and we take any suggestion of bullying extremely seriously in our schools.
"Schools have very robust procedures in place to prevent and tackle bullying so that they are safe environments for learning."