Racist behaviour by staff in Scottish schools is going unreported, according to the country's national teaching watchdog. New figures from the General Teaching Council for Scotland show it only received one report of racist behaviour by a teacher in the past five years, despite growing concern over the issue.

Ken Muir, chief executive of the body, has now called on headteachers, teachers and council officials to urgently improve reporting procedures.

Earlier this year, a major report on the lack of teachers from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds - called Teaching in a Diverse Scotland - highlighted shocking incidents of casual racism in schools.

In one example a white teacher who was mentoring a talented ethnic minority teaching student complained to her university that she smelled of curry.

In another case a teacher at a secondary school with pupils from Pakistan, India and Syria was overheard saying: "I think I am coming into a refugee camp".

Recent figures show just two per cent of teachers are from BME backgrounds despite making up four per cent of the Scottish population. The figures are even lower for headteachers and deputy heads with 0.6 per cent of the total from BME backgrounds.

Mr Muir said: "In the past five years there has been one referral relating to racism and that didn’t even occur in a school. It involved the removal of a teacher from the register for racially abusing a nightclub bouncer on a Saturday night.

"The mismatch between what black and minority ethnic probationers and teachers say and the reporting of racist incidents to local authorities and the GTCS is all too apparent."

Mr Muir said significant under-reporting of racist incidents was caused by a number of factors - including the fear of dealing with a potentially legal matter and the wider impact of a lack of action when incidents were reported.

And he said the Teaching in a Diverse Scotland report had uncovered unacceptable examples where black and minority ethnic students, probationers and teachers were being treated differently.

"There were BME students who were made to feel unwelcome on placements, probationers who received little or no support which contrasted with that received by other white probationers and BME teachers who had left or planned to leave teaching because they had been unsuccessful too many times in gaining promotion, citing the colour of their skin as the only plausible reason," he added.

A spokeswoman for the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union backed the GTCS concerns about under-reporting.

She said: "Our recent survey of BME members found that nearly three-quarters had experienced racism in their capacity as a teacher or lecturer.

"Reduced access to workplace opportunities was also a strong theme and nearly half of respondents had experienced being overlooked for promotion while a quarter had been bullied or harassed at work on the grounds of race or religion.

"Urgent efforts are needed to challenge workplace racism and to develop, in all establishments, comprehensive anti-racist policies which translate into real actions."

A key recommendation from the report, written by a working group chaired by Professor Rowena Arshad, Head of Education at Edinburgh University,

is that the number of BME teachers in Scotland’s schools should be at least four per cent by 2030.

Ms Arshad, co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, said schools could no longer shy away from addressing "racism, racial discrimination or harassment".

She said: "The lack of diversity in the teaching workforce has been a persistent and long-term issue. This lack of diversity is becoming increasingly pressing and visible, as the pupil population in Scottish schools is getting more diverse."

Her report said: "Despite the issues ... workplace racism was rarely recognised or raised by local authorities. Some respondents indicated they have never managed a race-focused complaint as part of their role and therefore lack the knowledge or experience of recognising race related matters.

"Given that we know issues exist, it is surprising and disappointing to note that in some cases employer awareness of issues appears to be very low."

In 2013, the GTCS struck off a teacher who shouted racist abuse at a black nightclub bouncer. Rachael Patterson, 28, called the steward a "monkey" and made monkey noises at him. Patterson was sacked and convicted of racially aggravated conduct.