1 in 4 students experienced racism in school

Yellow Flag Awards for Schools Tackling Racism and Promoting Inclusion

1 in 4 students experienced racism in school

Today five schools, two primary and three post primary, from Dublin, Clare and Kerry achieved Yellow Flag status at a ceremony to mark their efforts in tackling racism and promoting inclusion of all cultures, ethnicities and religions at an online event hosted by RTE Presenter and author of The Same but Different, Emer O’Neill.

To be awarded schools must complete 8 steps of the intercultural Programme which aims to improve educational outcomes for all children through a learning environment where diversity is valued and celebrated. Part of their efforts must include establishing a Diversity Committee of students, parents and teachers, a research survey of inclusion issues, a teacher workshop, the development of an anti-racism policy and classroom-based work. Following a positive assessment schools receive a flag to be raised outside their building, signaling to the wider community it is an inclusive anti-racist environment.

Speaking at the ceremony teacher Clíona Hallissy of St. Brigid’s Secondary School, Killarney said; “In a school community it’s important that all voices are heard. Those voices need to be diverse, inclusive and representative of the entire school community. Through the Yellow Flag programme, we have asked our students to lend us their voice to celebrate other cultures, languages, sexualities and ways of life.”

Over half of all students from the five 2022 awardee schools said they had witnessed racism within schools and over 1 in 4 had experienced it.  Molly Martin Brady, coordinator of the Programme said; “The Awards Ceremony is an occasion to showcase the work done by schools and officially welcome them to the Yellow Flag Community of 103 schools nationally. Yellow Flag is a proven model of change but is only available to pupils lucky enough to attend a school that opts into the Programme, as currently there is no direct State investment, which demotes anti-racism and inclusion to a luxury for a few, rather than a necessity for all. Today’s schools are evidence of what’s possible through a whole school approach to meaningful intercultural education”

Some of the innovative projects produced by schools in 2022 included;

  • a transformative art project about migration, refugees and displaced people, with pupils immersing themselves in how an asylum-seeker might feel in a new country where images were displayed on the school walls.
  • Several schools encouraged pupils in critical thought and analysis of current affairs via classroom debates centered on the topic of migration and refugees.
  • Some created short videos to introduce the student population to key words, concepts and definitions around diversity and inclusion and how to recognise discrimination and racism and combat it in school.
  • To celebrate Traveller ethnicity, a parent was invited in to showcase traditional Traveller culture and Traveller competency learning.
  • Another school erected an intercultural library in the entrance foyer incorporating all ethnicities, cultures and religions within the school community, and set the tone of inclusion at the entrance.

Receiving their school’s flag, student Lee Buivids of Firhouse Educate Together National School said: “If you are in an environment where diversity is present and celebrated everywhere, you will begin to celebrate as well”.

Bernard Joyce Director of the Irish Traveller Movement out of which the Programme was innovated in 2009 said “The National Action Plan Against Racism is currently being developed under the guidance of the Minister with responsibility Roderic O’Gorman, and it is hoped Yellow Flag will be resourced under that plan as a school learning model for all children.”

Sharyn Ward, singer and former contestant of Ireland’s Got Talent performed a traditional Traveller song and schools were lauded for their effort in video messages from Leitrim Hurler Zak Moradi, Boidu Sayah, Westmeath GAA Footballer and former Rugby International and Soccer player Jackie McCarthy O’Brien

The five schools awarded were:

  1. Holy Family Junior School, Ennis (P)
  2. Firhouse Educate Together National School (P)
  3. St. Tiernan’s Community School, Balally (PP)
  4. St. Brigid’s Secondary school, Killarney (PP)
  5. Grange Community College, Donaghmede (PP)

Anti-racism and intercultural learning across primary and post primary curricula in Ireland is not mandatory and remains at the discretion of individual teachers, who in turn, do not receive obligatory and standardised anti-racism training. To date 41,472 students, 3,292 teachers, and pupils of 70 nationalities and ethnicities, have benefited from Yellow Flag.  

A 2019 independent audit of participating schools surveyed students and parents’ experiences and needs on entering the Programme. Of those surveyed, 54% said they had experiences of racism, 74% wanted action on combating racism, 60% looked for ideas on how to progress intercultural action, and 57% wanted more knowledge and appreciation of cultural diversity in their school community. Following their undertaking of the Programme,

●        70% of teachers had a better understanding of racism

●        78% of schools integrated intercultural education into the formal curriculum

●        50% of schools involved parents of ethnic minority groups in the roll-out of the programme, who cited feeling empowered, valued and heard.

For further information please contact

Jacinta Brack Coordinator of Political Advocacy, Communications and Campaigns  

The Irish Traveller Movement 087 2744791/ 01 – 679 6577 Email: jacinta@itmtrav.ie