SCHOOLS and colleges are to be at the vanguard of a new drive to eradicate racism from Scottish society.

Teachers and lecturers will gather in Glasgow today to discuss how education can be used to combat all forms of prejudice.

Organised by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union the event will be addressed by MSP Anas Sarwar, convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia, and officials from Show Racism the Red Card.

Earlier this year, Glasgow University academics told the cross party group the belief Scotland was immune to racism and culturally different to England was a “misleading fantasy”.

University analysis showed the per capita rate of murders with a known or suspected race element in Scotland was higher than in the rest of the UK between 2000 and 2013.

They also highlighted data showing black and minority ethnic applicants for large public sector organisations had a 1.1 per cent chance of being appointed, compared to 8.1 per cent for their white counterparts.

Last year, a poll of Edinburgh primary pupils found Muslim pupils had been called “terrorists” at school, while some girls had their hijab veils torn off by classmates.

Mr Sarwar said there were major challenges facing Scottish society with everyday racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

He said: “Education is rightly seen as the vehicle to break the cycle of poverty, but it is also the vehicle to defeat prejudice and hate.

“Teaching a child can help educate and change a family, and it can educate and change a community.”

Priya Khindria, campaign manager for Show Racism the Red Card, said it was vital anti-racist education was included in the curriculum.

“As a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, Scotland’s young people need to be educated about these topics.

“It is not simply enough to discipline those who exhibit racist behaviours. We must be proactive in teaching young people to prevent racist incidents from occurring.

“Embedding anti-racist education across the curriculum will also make teachers aware of how they should respond to these types of behaviours.”

The event comes as the EIS launches new teaching materials on tackling racist and anti-Muslim attitudes.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said the publications were more urgent than ever following the growth of the far right across Europe and an increase in racist attitudes.

He said: “An important task now is for all EIS members working as teachers and lecturers across Scotland to take forward the anti-racist campaign by challenging prejudice wherever and whenever it occurs, be it in the playground, the classroom or the staffroom.”

The new teaching materials advise teachers to be especially vigilant for any signs of name calling, abuse and bullying, particularly of

Muslim pupils or staff.

In the immediate aftermath of a high-profile terrorist attack it calls on staff to be aware of the risk of black and minority ethnic pupils being targeted.

And it calls on headteachers and deputy heads to be sensitive to the needs of Muslim staff in terms of time off to mark important festivals or support during Ramadan.

John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, said the education system was designed to help tackle all forms of bigotry, prejudice and discrimination.

He said: “Our Race Equality Framework for Scotland outlines a range of actions we are taking, including ensuring that equality and intercultural competency training resources are developed and made available to teaching staff at all stages of their careers.

"We want to build inclusive, resilient and safe communities in Scotland where everyone feels connected, has a sense of belonging and feels valued.

"We will continue to celebrate the fullness of Scotland’s diversity - everyone in Scotland must be empowered to achieve their potential irrespective of race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability."

Following the survey of Edinburgh pupils Azru Merali, head of research at the UK Islamic Human Rights Commission, called for action.

She said: “The reporting by children of both Islamophobic harassment and bullying highlights the gap between existing anti-Islamophobia policies and the experience of children."