Racism, religion and culture

Guidance and resources to help you tackle bullying related to racism, religion and culture.

Racism is where someone thinks another person is inferior because of their colour, ethnicity, nationality or race.  This can result in people being treated differently or unfairly, this is called racial discrimination.

Racial bullying is a type of racism where someone’s bullying focuses on a person’s race, ethnicity or culture.  Racism and racial bullying are wrong and you can get help to make it stop.

Racism and racist bullying can include:

  • being called racist names or being sent insulting messages or threats
  • having your belongings damaged or having to see racist graffiti
  • personal attacks, including violence or assault
  • being left out, treated differently or excluded
  • people making assumptions about you because of your colour, race or culture
  • being made to feel like you have to change how you look
  • racist jokes, including jokes about your colour, nationality race or culture.

Racism can affect anyone.  It can make people feel like they’re not important or don’t fit in.  It might make people feel upset, depressed or angry.  People can be affected by it even when it’s not aimed at them.  For example, you might witness someone directly targeting somebody because of their culture. 

Britain is a multi-racial and multi-faith country and everyone has the right to have their culture and religion respected by others.

Intersectional identities

Intersectionality theory (Crenshaw, 1989) highlights that people are often disadvantaged or privileged by individual characteristics, which ‘intersect’ with one another and overlap: their race, age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion and other identity markers.

Many of these intersections include protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010; which must be considered in regard to the intention and impact of the behaviours, and additional vulnerabilities.

While just one individual characteristic can make somebody more susceptible to discrimination, intersectionality allows us to recognise that some will have overlapping and cumulative vulnerabilities.

Equality Act 2010  

Under the Equality Act 2010, schools must not discriminate.  In their teaching of Relationships Education, schools should ensure that the needs of all pupils are appropriately met, and that all pupils understand the importance of equality and respect. Schools must ensure that they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010, under which a person’s race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin are amongst the protected characteristics.

UN Convention on the Rights of a Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child states that:

  • The Convention applies to every child without discrimination, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status, whatever they think or say, whatever their family background (Article 2 – non-discrimination)
  • The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children (Article 3 - best interests of the child)
  • Every child has the right to learn and use the language, customs and religion of their family, whether or not these are shared by the majority of the people in the country where they live (Article 30 – children from minority or indigenous groups)
  • Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free and different forms of secondary education must be available to every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s dignity and their rights (Article 28 – right to education)
  • Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full (Article 29 – goals of education)


Ofsted expect schools to be environments where commonalities are identified and celebrated, difference is valued and nurtured, and bullying, harassment and violence are never tolerated. 

Oxfordshire County Council – Committed to addressing inequality

As a county council, we have an important role to play in this. Each day we work hard to tackle inequality, protect the vulnerable, and help support the life chances of the many communities that live in Oxfordshire.

By listening to people’s concerns, taking on board feedback and suggestions, and putting in place a range of actions and interventions, we will work hard to ensure that equality and inclusivity are embedded into our policies, practices and service delivery and, most importantly, into our organisational DNA.

Local guidance and resources

National guidance, resources and links

Local support for Black, Asian and other minority heritage children, young people and families

  • Oxfordshire Black and Minority Ethnic Community Champions - Bridging Gaps and Increasing the Influence and Participation of BME People in Oxfordshire.
  • Sunrise Multicultural - Sunrise Multicultural supports ethnic minority families in Banbury who are mainly of Pakistani descent. We serve single parent families, families on low income and from various wards in Banbury. Children from English families are part of the multi-cultural mix.
  • Asylum Welcome – An Oxford-based charity that welcomes asylum seekers, refugees and detainees who have fled persecution and danger in their own countries and seek refuge in Oxford and Oxfordshire.
  • Refugee Resource - Refugee Resource aims to relieve distress, improve well-being and facilitate the integration of refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants – mainly in Oxfordshire – by providing psychological, social and practical support.
  • Service Directory to access specialist support for Gypsies and Travellers around the UK.
  • SAFE! Project support for young people who have been victims of crime, including bullying in relation to their race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin. SAFE! is a charity providing support in the Thames Valley area including Oxfordshire.

Mental health support

In England and Wales, nearly a fifth of people come from a Black, Asian and other minority heritage background.  The mental health of Black, Asian and other minority heritage communities is important because people from these communities often face individual and societal challenges that can affect access to healthcare and overall mental and physical health. 

While one aspect of somebody’s identity can make them more susceptible to discrimination, having an intersectional identity can make them even more vulnerable.

Talking racism and mental health in schools: A series of five podcast episodes featuring mental health, anti-racism and education experts.

It is therefore crucial that Black, Asian and other minority heritage children are referred for mental health support when appropriate. Please contact https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/camhs/oxon/ for more information and to make a referral.