Schools across the country have recorded more suspensions for racial abuse last year, according to new figures.

In Cumbria, there were 33 suspensions for racial abuse during the 2022-23 spring term, up from 29 across the same period the year before.

Across England there were 3,779 of these suspensions, a 21 per cent rise from spring 2021-22.

The figures also show a substantial increase compared to the spring term in 2018-19, before the pandemic, when there were 1,690 such temporary exclusions.

In Cumbrian schools, pupils were suspended on 11 occasions during this period.

Becca Rosenthal, hate crime lead at Victim Support, said schools are working harder to protect young people impacted by racial hate.

She said the increase could be a sign that schools are clamping down on this behaviour rather than there being an actual rise in racist abuse.

“Racist abuse has a devastating impact on young people, affecting their mental health and overall wellbeing.

“It can cause the breakdown of friendships and disrupt children’s learning, making victims unwilling to come to school.

“It’s vital that schools and youth services have the tools to tackle racist abuse and staff are confident in having challenging conversations,” she added.

Across the country, 20 pupils had to look for a new school after being permanently excluded for racial abuse – none of them in Cumbria.

Pepe Di’Iasio, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said these cases are linked to wider societal issues such as access to hateful and prejudiced online content.

A video shared earlier this year of an alleged racially motivated attack in Carlisle highlighted this concerning trend.

READ MORE: Anti-racist group calls for action amid 'concerning trend' in schools

Anti Racist Cumbria, a charity and campaign group, claimed to be receiving around 'two emails a week' about school-related incidents, often from parents centred around racist language. 

Sophia Newton, Anti-Racist Cumbria co-founder, said in March of the video that went viral: “This is a call to action, enough words now, something has to change.”

She underscored the importance of not oversimplifying the problem by blaming perpetrators alone, but by addressing the systemic issues that have been long overlooked. 

She added at the time: "We’re getting two emails on average a week relating to racism. 

"This isn’t a witch hunt on a school, the parents we’re speaking to are coming from all different schools – the majority around the use of racist language in schools.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said of the recent figures on suspensions: “Racism, discrimination and violent behaviour have no place in our schools, nor in society.

“The government is very clear it backs head teachers to use exclusions where required, so they can provide calm, safe, and supportive environments for children to learn in.

“We are providing targeted support to schools to help improve behaviour and attendance and reduce the risk of exclusions with an investment of £10million in our Behaviour Hubs programme, and our mental health teams who will reach at least 50 per cent of pupils by 2025.”