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'There is no way my son is going back to that school'

ANGER: Juliet Ryan holds up the shirt featuring racist remarks made by her son's fellow students

A MOTHER is calling for her son’s school to carry out a diversity health check and catch the pupils who wrote racist messages on his farewell shirt, leaving him refusing to leave the house.

Juliet Ryan, who lives in Clacton-on-Sea and whose son attended the Clacton County High School, has been left frustrated and disgusted by the experience her 15-year-old son was subjected to, and what she deemed the school’s failure to take racism seriously.

Speaking to The Voice about the moment she saw the nword and c**n written on her son’s leaving shirt, Ryan said: “I was just upset when I saw it...I cried.”

TRAUMATISED
She said her son was so traumatised by the incident that he didn’t want to return to the school on the day that the discovery was made and has not been back since. At the time of writing, he had not left the family home since that day two weeks ago.

Chris Taylor, senior vice principal, told The Voice: “I share the disgust of the family that such a thing has happened, there is no place for racism in our school or our society.”

He added: “I am both shocked and appalled that a student would have acted in such a manner.

"Clacton County High School will not, and does not, tolerate racism or prejudice in any shape or form.”

In an email to Ryan, Taylor wrote: “We have had various names suggested by several students and have followed up approximately 10 leads. Unfortunately, we have been unable to identify anyone responsible for the crime as yet.”

Without knowing who wrote the racist slurs on his shirt, there is no way of knowing whether Ryan’s son may end up going to the same sixth form as them.

There was an option to continue education at Clacton County High School but Ryan said “there is no way" her son would be returning.

“His main concern is that he’s going to have the same problem with racism,” she said.

Despite her efforts to reassure him, the teenager is considering taking up an offer at a school in Newham, which would mean moving out of his current home to live with his dad.

“It’s not an option that I want,” Ryan said. “Sometimes I just feel like leaving the country I’ve just given up, I’ve got no more fight.”

Ryan is taking legal advice in relation to how to progress with the school. She said that she would be satisfied if the school found the perpetrators, punished them, and conducted a diversity health check – an initiative devised by Dr Doirean Wilson, Middlesex University, that helps organisations review their policies and practices.

However, she has recently been angered further by the school’s decision to publish a photo of her son in a news letter sent out to parents. Although the image in question was not used in relation to information about the incident, Ryan has kept her son’s image and name out of the media to protect his identity.

She told The Voice that because of his distinctive hairstyle, he may change his hair to reduce the chances of him being recognised and targeted.

A Department for Education spokesperson told The Voice: “Racism has no place in our schools and any incident is unacceptable.

“All schools must have measures in place to tackle bullying, including racist bullying, and we have made sure headteachers have the power to take swift action to tackle these kinds of behaviour.”

REVIEW

Steve Goodsell, southern region manager for Show Racism the Red Card, told The Voice: “The school, if it has not done so already, should conduct a review on their policies and procedures regarding training of staff and volunteers on matters concerning anti discrimination.

“Racism and discrimination continues to be a problem in our schools, and this will continue as we approach the final days of Brexit and young people hear the negative influence of some of our world leaders and politicians.”

Ryan, CEO of Working Action Group, has launched a campaign to encourage positivity and tackle racism in schools in the wake of what happened to her son.

Her initiative calls on people to create “love T-shirts”, decorating them with uplifting messages.

You can find out more about the campaign and how to take part at eradicateracism.co.uk

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