EAST SHEEN UK – A mother has taken the decision to pull her four-year-old out of an East Sheen school after he was subjected to racial bullying.

Ann Tshikunda, 28, was left ‘distraught’ after finding out her son, Elijah Boma, had been excluded by classmates at East Sheen Primary School in Upper Richmond Road because of his skin color.

She said: “Elijah told me that other children in the school had been referring to Elijah as ‘chocolate’ and ‘brown’. He also said that he was being excluded from games in the classroom and playground by other children, who were only picking white kids for games.

“I approached the school to express my concerns and the deputy headteacher reassured me she will monitor my son. That same afternoon (June 15), my son said he had experienced the other kid’s racists taunts again. I had approached the school yet again and questioned the deputy head why this was still happening after she ensured me that she will be monitoring my son that very day.

“Her response really shocked me as she said that she ‘did not find time to monitor him because she was busy focusing on the school’s playground being renovated’. This was extremely disturbing to hear as I felt like she would rather concentrate on the school playground than my son’s well-being.

“To make matters even more disturbing, later that evening, I learnt from another parent that a few months ago her son witnessed my son experience a similar incident. She immediately brought this to my son’s teacher’s attention and told her that he was being singled because of his skin color and that the children said that they did not want to play with him because he is brown.

“This was not brought to my attention even though the schools’ anti-bullying policy states that parents will be informed when teachers become aware of an incident of bullying. The school failed to cater to my son’s well-being and failed to inform me. If I had known months ago I would have dealt with the matter earlier and my son would not have to endure all this unnecessary bullying.”

In response, Elizabeth Page, headteacher at East Sheen Primary School said: “Our school is a diverse community with children from a wide variety of backgrounds. We are proud of our reputation for inclusivity and have been praised by the local authority for our outstanding inclusive practice.

“We take allegations of bullying and racism extremely seriously and in this case, we immediately worked with the class involved and the parents to ensure this matter was dealt with. This included changing the subject of ‘circle time activities’ planned for Reception children the following Monday to celebrate difference and promote inclusion.

“We continued to work with the children and the parent of the child in question over several weeks, including a ‘homeschool diary’ conversation with the child’s parent which showed he was enjoying being at school. The school believed the issue had been dealt with and had been resolved amicably to the satisfaction of all parties.”

Miss Tshikunda said she is still extremely angry and upset with how the school dealt with the matter. She described how her son has told her he wants his face to be white and wants white siblings.

She added: “I requested a meeting with the headteacher and all reception teachers to express my concerns. During the meeting, my son’s teacher said that when the parent approached her she thought it was about colours rather Elijah’s actual skin colour.

“I was also told that the group of children bullying my son were monitored, however, when I questioned why Elijah was still bullied by the same children, they had no response. I feel like the school could have done a lot more to deal with my son’s bullying.”