Herald writer imagines racism iceberg at among one in a THOUSAnd of pupils

From another Lib Dem campaign in the Herald:

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.

Several things strike the average brain straight-off:

  1. 2 200 over 3 years means ‘hundreds of incidents’ not thousands. Adding up statistics over years to get a bigger number is dishonest and the outcomes are meaningless.
  2. We need to know how common these incidents are. There are 702 000 pupils in Scottish schools. With less than 800 incidents per year, that means, at worst because some will be repeat offences by the same pupil, 1 in 1 000 were involved
  3. We need to know if these incidents are becoming more common and if so why. For some reason, we are not told the rather obvious, easy to present, figures in each of the three years. Instead they are added up. Are they falling? Was that not what the readers need to see?
  4. Even if the numbers are climbing, has reporting changed? Is a new IT system being used? Well yes, further down we read: 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.
  5. Then we hear of the ‘iceberg tip’. You can say that about everything recorded in official statistics but it’s not news.

These media attempts to suggest Scotland is more racist than we might think go back some way. Here’s a longer read on them:



9 thoughts on “Herald writer imagines racism iceberg at among one in a THOUSAnd of pupils

      1. 1 divided by 1000 is indeed 0.001 – a thousandth, but you have to multiply that by 100 to get a percentage, so it’s 0.1%, Try it with 5. We all know its a 20th of 100 or 20% i.e. 5 x 100 divided by 100 = 20%. Using same logic 5 is a 200th of 1000 or 2%. QED!


  1. Errata!!
    Should read: We all know 5 is a 20th of 100 or 5% i.e. (5 divided by 100)x100 = 5%. Using same logic 5 is a 200th of 1000 or 0.5%. i.e.5/1000×100 = 0.5%
    QED this time!


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