According to a recently-published report, antisemitic incidents in secondary schools in England have almost trebled in the last half-decade.
The findings, collated by researchers at the Henry Jackon Society think tank, were published exclusively in the JC using an investigation that used Freedom of Information requests on a scale previously not seen before, encompassing more than 3,000 English secondary schools.
The results showed that there have been at least 1,000 antisemitic incidents in these schools, including 76 that were serious enough for teachers to have reported them to the police, and thirteen instances of students being physically assaulted by their peers.
One of the questions that formed the research asked how many incidents of pupil misconduct, bullying, harassment, or similar, in which the term “antisemitism” was recorded, had taken place in the period between 2017 and 2022.
However, very few – less than one in twenty – of the schools have policies in place to combat antisemitism, and only around 40 percent of the schools that were contacted even responded to the inquiry.
There were a total of 1,030 incidents reported for the period, at the start of which 60 incidents were recorded. That figure almost trebled to 164 in 2022.
581 incidents were recorded but not tied to a specific year within the given period. Given how few schools responded, the overall total may be far higher than this.
58 percent of the incidents involved Jewish students being mocked by others with reference to the Nazis or the Holocaust. This includes the apparently widespread practice of hissing at Jewish students to recreate what it might have sounded like in the gas chambers that the Nazis set up throughout Europe to exterminate Jews. This form of bullying reportedly often takes place after classes about the Holocaust.
Some of the incidents describe include a student who brought a copy of Hitler’s notorious autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf, into school and suggested that the class read it together. Another student at the same school discussed the “Jewish conspiracy” that controls the world during a personal development lesson. There were numerous examples of physical and verbal assault, as well as incidents that were not included in the report of pupils being forced to move schools due to the abuse and even Jewish teachers who have resigned rather than suffer antisemitism from their own students.
The report states that schools should adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, that antisemitism policies should be mandatory in all schools, that Ofsted inspectors should assess antisemitism during inspections, and that the number of antisemitic incidents should be submitted to the Department of Education on an annual basis so that figures can be published.
Robert Halfon, Conservative Member of Parliament for Harlow, and chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, said: “This is horrific. It’s hard to believe that in 2022, Jewish students are being subjected to antisemitism and abuse of this kind – and yet nothing seems to be being done about it.”
Do you or your friends/family have stories of schoolteachers or pupils facing antisemitism at schools in the UK? We have received a significant number of reports and the Incident Response colleagues would be keen to hear of further examples if you could share them. Contact us at [email protected] or call +44 (0)330 822 0321.