A four-year-old girl has been withdrawn from a West London infants’ school after being subjected to repeated antisemitic remarks by other pupils.
Her father, journalist Nick Johnstone, has accused the head teacher, Philip Eaton, of failing to deal with his complaints. He has since complained to the local education authority about Mr Eaton and has also reported the matter to police and his MP, Mark Field.
In an email to Mr Johnstone, the head admitted that both he and the school “have let your family down”.
Mr Johnstone’s daughter, whom he asked not to be named, joined Hallfield Infants’ School in Paddington, a multi-faith but predominantly Muslim school, in January.
Physical and verbal bullying of the girl started some time ago and escalated last week to religious abuse.
He said: “A girl told her that ‘Jewishes are yuck’, ‘Jewishes don’t care about people’, ‘you can’t trust Jewishes’ and ‘you can’t throw a ball to Jewishes because they kick it in your face’. Another girl told her ‘Jewishes are not nice people’.” She was told that “Allah would burn her in the fire” because she was not Muslim.
“My wife and I had never heard, let alone used, the word ‘Jewishes’ before. We were absolutely shocked and appalled that this had happened in a state primary school. We felt that it was a disgrace that a four-year-old should have suffered such racist episodes while under the school’s care.”
Mr Johnstone reported the incidents to Mr Eaton as they happened. “At first, he seemed to take it seriously and said he would speak to the children. But he didn’t. Then he told me he doubted that all of this had happened. He seemed more concerned about not upsetting the other parents than us,” said Mr Johnstone.
Mr Eaton said he had wanted time to work out a strategy for dealing with the problem “because children of this age have very short memories of what they are saying. There is a bigger issue of where they are getting this from and it must be somewhere outside.”
He added that he planned to speak to the children and their parents, and that staff would be encouraged to work more closely to try to eliminate racist comments.