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Editor's comment: Mora Primary School needs to learn from welfare officer's unacceptable use of the N-word

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 19:18 06 April 2018

Shamim Butt's 'racist' Instagram post, with the offending word blacked out.

Shamim Butt's 'racist' Instagram post, with the offending word blacked out.

Archant

The language used on Shamima Butt's Instagram page would be totally unacceptable from anyone, let alone a school worker in a borough as diverse as Brent.

It’s to her credit that, when confronted by this newspaper, she immediately apologised and accepted that she had fallen short of what was expected of her.

But Ms Butt has well over 1,000 followers on that social media platform, which gives her the privilege of just that: a platform. Not only are children very likely to be influenced by the way she speaks and conducts herself, but so are her followers.

And it shouldn’t take an intervention by a councillor and a newspaper to get someone in a position like hers to exercise a bit of self-awareness.

Earlier this year, an 11-year-old boy was suspended from a school in Newcastle for using the N-word. Why should we expect more of our children than we do of our teachers?

But rather than suspend her, I suspect more good would be done by the school reviewing its policies around equality and diversity and acknowledging that the message has failed to get through. That might mean staff need training, or that students, staff and parents would benefit from workshops and assemblies on discrimination.

The fact Ms Butt did not intend her post to be racist is beside the point: ignorance is no defence, and her ignorance of the historical context of that word offended people. Nor do I think the fact she made the post outside work is much help: using language like that is never OK.

This is a chance for the school to show initiative and make sure it champions equality both inside and outside the classroom.

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