#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Investigation at school following pupil’s claims of racial abuse

Parents of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, contacted The News to share their frustration – claiming that the school failed to act
responsibly at the time.

They said: “My son, aged 15, is a BAME person of colour, and Muslim, who hopes to study medicine.

“He was the repeat victim of racist, Islamophobic, cyber-bullying, real world bullying including GBH over the past year with additional threats of violence.

“In July 2020, four white youths were convicted by the JDP (Youth Court) of two criminal offences in relation to their behaviour towards my son.

“Those offences were malicious communications and racially aggravated harassment, with threats of violence.

“Each received Conditional Cautions (convictions which are disclosable on a DBS). The conditions include no contact with my son and not to travel on the street in which we reside.

“The bullying occurred at school as well as via social media.

“There are over 450 screenshots of racist and Islamophobic content, and threats to assault and kill my son.

“My son attends QEGS which has significantly higher than the national average of predominantly white pupils, and I understand little or no ethnic minority teaching staff.

“The bullying has been going on since at least June 2019, when my son was viciously physically assaulted from behind at school, resulting in a serious leg fracture requiring the use of crutches for nine months, a serious injury from which he has not fully recovered.

“The school’s response to that GBH (as defined by the police) was ‘no disciplinary action’ whatsoever.

“To date, my son has not received so much as an apology from the pupil who assaulted him, despite there being no question that he had not contributed to the events of that day.

“Two of the recently convicted youths attend the same school as my son, and one of them was involved in the GBH incident last June.

“The headteacher of QEGS, Mr Simon Furness, confirmed in his email in July that there were ‘numerous threats of further physical assault and persistent social media bullying including racist behaviour’, which constitutes a ‘serious breach’ of school behaviour code.

“However, QEGS’s response was to issue one pupil with a two-day exclusion, and the other a four-day suspension.

“Mr Furness stated that he does not feel a permanent exclusion is appropriate, as he believes ‘allowing those involved to remain in school will not harm the education or welfare of others’.

“That, of course, is a subjective assessment, and given the total lack of remorse shown by both pupils (neither boys have offered any apology) it is a view we do not share, especially as my son was already put at considerable harm, both physical and emotional, over the past year at QEGS.

“We feel that the proportionate response should have been considerably more.

“My son was unable to attend QEGS from mid March to mid July 2020 when he should have been at school as a child of key workers.

“My son was unable to attend school for the sole reason that the two (now convicted) youths were in attendance receiving their education, and/or, QEGS could not meet its obligation to provide a safe environment for my child, insisting on taking no investigation or action until the conclusion of a police investigation.

“Even after the conclusion of such police investigation it was a number of weeks before QEGS took action against the two offenders.

“The effect and reality of the situation is that my son, the victim, has been excluded from school for four months.

“We feel that the school’s decision is a woefully disproportionate and inadequate response, and sets a very dangerous precedent within the school community and seemingly undermines all national guidance of response to such behaviour.

“We very much feel that QEGS wish simply to have this horrific experience to be swept to one side, and so that all those involved may return in September with a clean slate so to speak, as if nothing happened, for fear of a negative narrative affecting QEGS’s reputation.

“QEGS’s response has caused great distress and anxiety to my son, who feels, as do we, that the education and support extended to him as the innocent victim, is less than towards the bullies.

“My son doesn’t feel that his voice is respected or valued, and he feels extremely let down.

“QEGS’s weak response to what does amount to two very serious criminal offences (admitted and proven at court) simply astounds us.

“I made no secret of the fact during numerous discussions that it was extremely important to us that justice be seen to be done and QEGS had an excellent opportunity to demonstrate a strong response; that racism, Islamophobia, threats of violence and bullying would not be tolerated.

“It is such a disappointment that QEGS failed to stand firm in support of its BAME pupil and wider community, and seemingly values white pupils’ access to education over that of BAME pupils.”

The News contacted QEGS for a statement on the allegations made.

Mr Furness said: “The school is committed to safeguarding and promoting the well-being of all its pupils and takes all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying and racist bullying, extremely seriously.

“We encourage all students to treat every member of the school community with respect and have robust policies in place to deal with any incidents of this nature which, thankfully, are extremely rare.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations in line with our official complaints procedure, and as such we are unable to comment any further at this time.

“However, we have been in touch with the parents and will be in a position to respond to their concerns very shortly.”

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