‘When the children say ‘brown boy’ they’re not being racist because we’re not racist in our school’: racism and bullying in rural primary schools

Bhopal, Kalwant (2011) ‘When the children say ‘brown boy’ they’re not being racist because we’re not racist in our school’: racism and bullying in rural primary schools At British Educational Research Assocation, United Kingdom. 06 - 08 Sep 2011.


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This paper will examine how aspects of racism and bullying are understood in two primary schools in rural England. There is a body of research that has examined how discourses of racism are understood differently within predominantly white rural populations (Neal, 2002; Chakraborti and Garland, 2004). This paper explores how rural schools characterised by overwhelmingly white majority populations, (of pupils, teachers and local communities), understand and deal with incidents of racist bullying. In particular it examines how schools address such bullying in line with race equality policies (the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 and the Equalities Act 2010). Interviews were conducted in two case study primary schools with children who had experienced bullying, their parents and teachers. The research was analysed by using methods of grounded theory and discourse analysis, drawing on the work of Charmaz (2006) and Fairclough (2001). The data demonstrates evidence of the intersections of ‘race’ and class within discourses of racial perceptions in rural schools. How Black and Minority ethnic pupils and their parents are perceived by schools directly affects how racist discourses operate within the school and wider community. Drawing on the work of Foucault (1984) and Mauss (1979) it argues that post-McPherson pupils are situated in a ‘historical moment’ in which institutional racism is acknowledged by schools formally and publicly but that this does not reflect the schools informal, private practices. The existence of a post-McPherson ‘moment’ informs discourses within the school in which minority ethnic parents are seen to excessively demand their ‘rights’. In consequence whilst systems are established that could respond to racist bullying, in practice these are rarely or never used in the school context. Within schools a local discourse emerges that counters suggestions of racism by pointing to the existence of anti-racist systems. At the same time the existence of such systems is understood more widely as evidence that Black and minority ethnic parents use racism as a means of promoting their children’s excessive rights

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: British Educational Research Assocation, United Kingdom, 2011-09-06 - 2011-09-08

ePrint ID: 196977
Date :
Date Event
September 2011Published
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2011 08:06
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 01:34
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/196977

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