MINISTERS have been told to do more to prevent racist bullying and introduce compulsory recording of abuse after more than 2,200 incidents were reported in schools in the last three years.

A freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats has found at least 2,251 instances of racism in schools between the 2017-18 and 2019-20 academic years.

Glasgow City Council saw the highest number of reported incidents with 642, with reports in Edinburgh at 490. Orkney recorded the lowest level of incidents with three, all of which occurred in 2017-18. West Lothian, Highland and Falkirk councils did not reply, according to the Lib Dems.

READ MORE: In your area: The scale of racist incidents in Scottish schools

A Scottish charity has called on ministers to re-think a resistance to introducing mandatory recording of racist incidents in schools – despite that approach being supported by the United Nations.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, Beatrice Wishart, said the figures showed that “racist incidents remain a stubborn stain on Scottish schooling”.

She added: “All forms of bullying need to be challenged effectively. That means accurate recording and monitoring of bullying so that the right interventions can be put in place to stamp these incidents out.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged us all to think about racial injustice and to reflect on Scotland’s own history.

READ MORE: Calls for anti-racist education to be taught in Scottish schools

“By and large, Scotland is a great place to live but learning the lessons of the past will allow us to do even better in the future.”

Executive director of Scottish charity, the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), Jatin Haria said that upgrades to the IT system used to record racist incidents in schools, SEEMiS, could have contributed to the rise in reports.

He added: “However, we have reason to believe that these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Racist incidents in schools, and similarly hate crimes in the wider community, often go unreported.

“We believe that as well as work to encourage reporting, a mandatory approach to recording incidents is needed. CRER continues to campaign for the introduction of mandatory recording of racist incidents and prejudice-based bullying in Scotland’s schools, with data to be collected, analysed and published by Scottish Government on an annual basis.

“The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland have also called for action, but as yet, Scottish Government have not accepted the need for a mandatory approach. This is vital, because without better data, policy makers cannot effectively identify ways to protect children and young people facing racism.

“Crucially, more effective action needs to be taken across all of Scotland’s schools to prevent racist bullying. This needs to be based on strong, well-evidenced approaches that actively work to reduce prejudice."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Bullying of any form is entirely unacceptable and we need to be vigilant in challenging any racist and abusive behaviour in schools.

“Where it occurs, it must be challenged through educating children about all faiths and belief systems, ensuring they learn tolerance, respect and equality.”