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Inter-ethnic relations among children at school: the perspectives of young people in Scotland

Hill, M. and Graham, C. and Caulfield, C. and Ross, N. and Shelton, A. (2007) Inter-ethnic relations among children at school: the perspectives of young people in Scotland. European Journal of Education, 42 (2). pp. 267-279. ISSN 0141-8211

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Abstract

In the UK, policies and academic writings about inter-ethnic relations have witnessed many changes in recent decades, with a growing focus on the effects of different forms of racism and anti-racism. Opinions have been diverse on the extent to which both the majority and minority populations should respect and adapt to each other's traditions. Relatively little research has been undertaken on the experiences and perceptions of children. This article reports on findings from three linked studies which highlight the viewpoints of white and minority ethnic children as they made the transition to secondary schools. With a few exceptions, the children felt that their schools respected their religious practices and other customs. Most children of minority backgrounds had mixed friendship groups and the range of achievements, experiences and attitudes in relation to school were largely unrelated to ethnic background. Hardly any young people saw teachers as overtly racist, though small numbers believed teachers discriminated in favour of other groups. Peer racism was endemic and reported to be more frequent in secondary school than primary school. Teacher responses were often seen as inadequate.