Education Minister promises action on racist bullying after Abertillery boy loses finger
Education Minister Jeremy Miles has said that he was “shocked and saddened” and has promised action on racist bullying after the mother of a 11-year-old boy says he lost his finger “fleeing bullies”.
Raheem Bailey was allegedly beaten by a group of children at school on Tuesday and broke his finger while climbing a fence to escape his tormentors, his mother said. It later had to be amputated.
Jeremy Miles said that he was updating statutory anti-bullying guidance “to ensure it reflects our vision for a truly anti-racist Wales”, and that it would be in place by September this year.
He also said that he hoped that changes to the Curriculum for Wales to teach the history of black and minority ethnic would encourage pupils to confront racism.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn of the incident in Blaenau Gwent last week, which resulted in a child being seriously injured,” he said.
“The incident is being investigated by the school and the local authority, and Gwent Police are involved and carrying out an investigation. My officials have been in close contact with the local authority in Blaenau Gwent since last week and we will continue to engage with them while the investigation is ongoing. We also understand that the child and the child’s family are being supported by Gwent Police.
“This incident involved a child being injured and experiencing extreme fear for their safety. The results of the investigation by Gwent Police and other agencies will be required in order for us to reach detailed conclusions on the incident and I support the agencies involved in engaging with the child and their family.
“Every one of our education settings in Wales should be an inclusive, engaging environment where everyone’s well-being is considered and everyone feels accepted, safe and ready to learn. The Welsh Government condemns bullying and harassment in any form, including any form of racist bullying or harassment.
“We expect allegations and incidents of bullying and racism to be fully investigated by schools, with appropriate action taken to address the matter and prevent further instances from happening.”
Shantal Bailey said her son had faced “racial and physical abuse” since he started secondary school at Abertillery Learning Community in South Wales in September.
Police are now investigating a report of an assault on Raheem at the secondary school, and the school trust has closed all of its campuses on Monday.
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said the school was working with Gwent Police to establish what happened.
Jeremy Miles said that a key goal within the forthcoming Anti-racist Wales Action Plan was to improve the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic learners and teachers in schools.
“The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring that the education, opportunities and outcomes for our children and young people in Wales are fair and equitable, and we are committed to building an anti-racist Wales by 2030 – this includes an anti-racist education system,” he said.
“As part of our Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan, we are updating our statutory anti-bullying guidance to ensure it reflects our vision for a truly anti-racist Wales. This will be in place for schools by September 2022.
“It is important that our Curriculum for Wales reflects the true diversity of our population and that learners understand how this diversity has shaped modern Wales. That is why the Welsh Government has made mandatory changes to include the teaching of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories and experiences in the new curriculum.
“In supporting a child to make strong connections with their home and community, and embracing past and present experiences, teachers should support learners to develop an appreciation of the extent to which they are part of a wider international community, fostering a sense of belonging that can encourage them to contribute positively to their communities and confront racism.
“The Welsh Government funds a suite of training for schools, practitioners and governors focussed on anti-bullying, delivered by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Kidscape. I would urge all schools to engage with this training and learning, to ensure all forms of bullying and harassment are dealt with appropriately.”
Boxer Anthony Joshua and footballer Jadon Sancho are among those who have sent messages of support to Raheem since the incident is claimed to have taken place and gained national attention.
Football manager Chris Hughton, pundit Gary Neville and Olympic BMX biker Kye Whyte have also contacted Raheem to wish him well.
US basketball player Gerald Green, who forged a hugely successful career with nine fingers, has even set up a call to speak to Raheem directly.
Almost £96,000 has now been raised on a Go Fund Me page to go towards a prosthetic finger for Raheem and his ongoing recovery.
Ms Bailey said she was “truly grateful” for the generosity shown by so many towards Raheem.
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