June 08, 2010

Carmarthen school 'should clamp down on pupil's racist website'

Carmarthenshire council has been criticised for distancing itself from an extreme right-wing website created by a county borough schoolboy.

A 16-year-old GCSE pupil at Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen has been identified as the creator of The Carmarthenshire Front website, which calls for the closure of all mosques and warns of a threat against white men.

Campaigners for racial equality and members of a leading teaching union say the local authority should be working to educate youngsters in order to eradicate racial prejudice. The call comes after both the council and school declined to take action against the pupil.

Rex Phillips, from teaching union NASUWT Wales, said: "Although the school has correctly and swiftly dissociated itself from this racist website, the Carmarthenshire authority is wrong to claim that this is not a school matter. Such complacency is wholly unacceptable."

The website features videos of BNP leader Nick Griffin talking about the "Islamification" of Europe, and describes the dangers facing the "white man" from a "tsunami of immigration".

A member of the senior leadership team at Queen Elizabeth High School said: "We have got no control over what an individual writes in their spare time. We completely and totally dissociate ourselves from anything of this nature."

Meanwhile, a statement from the council added: "Queen Elizabeth High School completely disassociates itself from this website and its contents. This is not a school matter."

However, Taha Idris, director of Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council, said: "Protesters like the Welsh Defence League may influence young, impressionable people so it is vital that we educate our youths."

Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT added: "There is still much more to be done to protect young people from having their attitudes poisoned in this way. Families, schools, communities and government all have a responsibility to combat and challenge these unacceptable views. It is not acceptable for either the school or local authority to claim to have no responsibility in this matter."

However Carmarthenshire Council has defended its stance. Head of improvement and skills Wyn Williams said: "The county council is very active in working with schools and instilling core values and beliefs in our children and young people. Our Children and Young People's Plan promotes a number of key values and beliefs, which are taught in our schools. It clearly states that children and young people should appreciate and respect their own and others' beliefs and attitudes."

This is South Wales

1 comment:

Andrew said...

If the owner of the website was influenced by, or has been attempting to influence, people at his school, then it is a school matter. Likewise if he has used the school's IT facilities to edit his site.

Otherwise it is not the school's business what one of their students does outside of school. I think we need to be careful what we wish for here. There are far more schools which would discriminate against students of a progressive disposition, for example students who are involved in anti-fascism, opposition to the war, or supporting the Palestinians. Such students - and I am am proud to have been one back in the days when Apartheid, Greenham Common cruise missiles and Thatcher's cuts were the main issues - tend to make head teachers and governors nervous, when they are crawling around businessmen in the hope that they will become sponsors of the school in some capacity.

The last thing we should do is give schools more of an opportunity to expel students with strong political views.