Gipsy pledge report 'out of proportion'

Public bodies like schools and councils have been urged to continue fighting racist bullying and promoting good relations. The plea from Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council follows an official complaint by a local headmaster that pupils were instructed to take a pledge not to bully gipsy and traveller children at a district council workshop.

Public bodies like schools and councils have been urged to continue fighting racist bullying and promoting good relations.

The plea from Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council follows an official complaint by a local headmaster that pupils were instructed to take a pledge not to bully gipsy and traveller children at a district council workshop.

Simon Wakeman, head teacher at Spooner Row Primary, said the incident had put the school in an invidious position as it wished to remain objective over controversial proposals to develop a gipsy and travellers site in the village. He was also unhappy about young children of primary age being asked to take any form of pledge, and received a personal apology from South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller, as the Mercury reported last week.

The NNREC organised an “expert speaker” to help run the session and its director, Anne Matin, claims the incident has been “blown out of proportion”.


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“We work very closely with all local councils in Norfolk, including South Norfolk Council, to promote good community relations. Events like this anti-bullying session are important and already other schools are getting in touch with us for more details because they want to run similar sessions,” she said.

“We want to set the record straight on our work to tackle bullying and especially racist bullying in schools and the support we give to children, young people and adults to challenge and report racist bullying.

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“This story of the South Norfolk Council session was blown out of proportion and as a result it appears that the public duty on schools, local authorities and all public bodies to promote good relations was forgotten, as were the interests of vulnerable people.

She said the NNREC was originally contacted by the council to ask if it could help with one of its sessions in local democracy week, and found an excellent expert speaker from a key partner organisations.

She added: “We were pleased to have the support of the two people who ran the workshop during local democracy week. They understand these issues because they come from within the community themselves and have the expertise, knowledge and experience to do the work. NNREC stands by them too and hopes to work with them again.”

Anyone wishing to combat bullying of any kind is asked to contact the NNREC at: Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council. North Wing, County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich NR1 2DH. Tel: 01603 611 644. Email: admin@nnrec.org.uk

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